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Blue-Collar Headwinds: A Graying Workforce

Saturday, June 10, 2017

One effect of the decline in supply for blue collar workers has been a dramatic “graying” of the blue-collar workforce over the past decade-plus. The median age for a construction worker was 42.7 years in 2015, up four full years from 2000 (38.7). Manufacturing’s average age has also climbed up four years since 2000, to 44.4 in 2015.10

Why does this matter? For one, older workers are costlier than their younger counterparts. Employees with years or decades of experience (rightfully) command much higher salaries and better benefits than their younger, inexperienced counterparts. Additionally, industries and companies with a higher average age must worry about the potential of having to replace vast numbers of retirees at once. Such a scenario could create huge added costs in the form of onboarding, training, and lost productivity. which, if done improperly, could result in a loss of valuable institutional knowledge.

Next Part in the Series: Blue-Collar Headwinds: Millennials Misconceptions


9. Employment Projections—2014-24 (Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).
10. Occupation and industry, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017,


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