Blue-Collar Worker Profile and White-Collar Contrasts

From Associated Press

Here are some statistics about blue-collar workers:


According to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank:

* Blue-collar wages have fallen 7.6% from March, 1987, to March, 1992, with the average hourly salary dropping from $12.91 to $11.93. By contrast, white-collar earnings fell from $15.82 an hour to $15.27 an hour in the same period, a 3.5% decline.

* The wages of entry-level high school graduates--those with up to five years in the job market--fell 26.5% for men between 1979 and 1991. For women, the decline was 15.5% in the same period.


* The 1991 median hourly wage for men was 1.4% less than in 1989 and 12.9% lower than in 1979. For women, the fall from 1989 to 1991 was 2.8%, but last year’s median hourly wage was 2.4% higher than in 1979. Women’s wages increased in the ‘80s, but more than half the advances were wiped out in recent years.

* Young, male college graduates earned 5.1% less in 1991 than they did in 1979, with most of the drop occurring in the last four years of the period.


As the nation’s economy becomes more service-oriented, the white-collar share of employment has grown, while the blue-collar share has fallen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

* The blue-collar workers’ share of total employment dropped from 37% to 26% from 1960 to 1991; at the same time, the white-collar group increased from 43% to 57%.

* During all six recessions since the early 1960s, the increase in jobless rates was at least twice as high for blue-collar workers as for white-collar workers. Throughout the 1990-91 recession, the blue-collar unemployment rate remained more than twice the rate than that of white-collar workers.

* White-collar workers have been hit harder in this recession than in earlier ones, though still not as hard as blue-collar workers.


* At the end of last year, the increase in the number of jobless white-collar workers was about as great as the rise in the number of unemployed blue-collar workers. In earlier recessions, the increase in the blue-collar unemployment level was two to four times the white-collar increase.


The federal government reports that manufacturing employment has fallen in the last decade:

* The annual average manufacturing employment was 20.3 million in 1980. A decade later, it was 19.1 million. In July, 1990, the beginning of the recession, it was 19.1 million. In July, 1992, it was 18.2 million.