Blue-collar worker

Blue-collar worker

A blue-collar worker is a member of the working class who performs manual labor and earns an hourly wage. Blue-collar workers are distinguished from those in the service sector and from white-collar workers, whose jobs are not considered manual labor.

Blue-collar work may be skilled or unskilled, and may involve manufacturing, mining, building and construction trades, teaching, mechanical work, maintenance, repair and operations maintenance or technical installations. The white-collar worker, by contrast, performs non-manual labor often in an office; and the service industry worker performs labor involving customer interaction, entertainment, retail and outside sales, and the like.

Origin of the term

The term "blue-collar" is derived from uniform dress codes of industrial workplaces. Industrial and manual workers wear durable clothing that can be soiled or scrapped at work. A popular element of such clothes has been, and still is, a light or navy blue work shirt. Blue is also a popular colour for coveralls, and will frequently include a name tag of the company/establishment on one side, and the individual's name on the other. Often these items are bought by the company and laundered by the establishment as well.

The popularity of the colour blue among persons who do manual labor is in contrast to the ubiquitous white dress shirt that, historically, has been standard attire in office environments. This obvious colour-coding has been used to identify a difference in socio-economic class. This distinction is growing more blurred, however, with the increasing importance of skilled labor, and the growth of non-laboring, but low-paying, service sector jobs. Blue-collar can also be used as an adjective to describe the environment of the blue-collar worker: for example, a blue-collar neighborhood, job, restaurant, bar; or, a situation describing the use of manual effort and the strength required to do so. [cite web|url= |title=Blue Collar can also describe the environment |accessdate=2006-08-15]

In the UK, the term 'blue-collar worker' is rarely used, and 'white-collar worker' is heard less often these days.

Education requirements

A distinctive element of blue-collar work is the lesser requirement for formal academic education which is needed to succeed in other types of work, with many blue-collar jobs requiring only a high school diploma or GED. [cite web|url= |title=Blue Collar work requires less formal education |accessdate=2006-08-15] Blue-collar work typically is hourly wage-labor. Usually, the pay for such occupation is lower than that of the white-collar worker, although higher than many entry-level service occupations. Sometimes the work conditions can be strenuous or hazardous, also known as 3Ds: "Dirty", "Demanding", and "Dangerous". Blue collar jobs may be represented by trade unions, in which case skilled jobs may pay very well compared to white collar jobs. You do not need much education for blue collar jobs.

Blue-collar stereotypes in the United States

Blue-collar workers exist in varying proportions throughout the industrial world, though some regions are especially noted for their "blue-collar" ethic. The U.S. state of Pennsylvania, particularly the cities of Pittsburgh and Allentown, is considered to epitomize the blue-collar ethic. Pittsburgh's blue-collar image is driven largely by media portrayal which is based on the prevailing "hard working blue-collar" mentality that the majority of Pittsburgh residents tend to value. Both cities have sometimes been highlighted in popular culture because of their blue-collar reputations and with the steady loss of these jobs are in financial distress, [cite web|url= |title=High-paid executives struggle to stay in Pittsburgh after layoff |accessdate=2006-08-15] but according to a 2005 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 23% of Pittsburgh's job base is made of blue collar occupations.

hift of blue-collar jobs from industrialized countries to developing regions

With the movement of many Western nations towards a basis of service economy, the number of blue-collar jobs has steadily decreased. Another main reason for the decrease in blue-collar jobs in the United States is due to the information revolution. Perhaps the biggest reason is that many low-skill manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to developing nations with lower wages. Outsourcing of manufacturing jobs is resulting in a growing class of "blue-collar" workers in developing nations, changing these regions from an agrarian to industrial job base.


ee also

*Gold-collar workers
*Pink-collar workers
*Grey-collar workers
*Green-collar workers
*Social class
*Working class

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