The national conversation about jobs is dominated by STEM. It’s where the demand is, the money is, and where we push youngsters as they enter the labor market. So, it should come as no surprise that we might be experiencing a little “STEM fatigue.” This week Lauren Weber, writing for the WSJ, published a fun review of a new book, “Master of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy” by Richard Ocejo, which focuses on the resurgence of people working in “old-timey” jobs.
We took a closer look at a few of the labor market dynamics related to these jobs, which appeal to people who thrive when working with their hands and being on their feet.
Here are some of the major takeaways:
First, there are a ton of jobs that could fall into this category, so we narrowed our analysis to focus on seven. From 2014-2017, these seven jobs grew 8%, adding nearly 228,000 new jobs to the economy. This is 3% greater than the national growth rate, which is at a healthy 5%. The largest and fastest growing occupation, a rare combination, is cooks.
Since 2014, cooks have grown by 10% and an impressive 118,000 new jobs—a nod to the rise in popularity of food trucks and other new-age restaurant trends. Full-service restaurants have expanded by nearly 8% since 2014 and have added 5 million jobs to the economy.
Barbers are the only occupation on the list that didn’t experience growth over the past few years. Everything else grew by 5% or greater.
These jobs don’t require much—or any—formal education. The economy finds itself at an interesting crossroads. There is a wide array of in-demand jobs available and while many of them require degrees, some don’t.
The trick is that many of these non-degree requiring jobs don’t pay well on average, especially when compared to their STEM counterparts. Earning a high salary requires exceptional performance in your field.
Below, we also took a closer look at the number self-employed workers vs employees (people who work for other people or companies) within these occupations. About 14% of the people working in these seven job categories are self-employed. Here we should note that the growth rate for self-employed old-timey jobs is quite low (3%) and the pay tends to be a bit less than what we see in the first table.
As a final step, we wanted to see if more young workers are heading into these jobs.
We found that old-timey jobs tend to have slightly larger percentages of younger workers when compared to the labor market in general. 42% of workers in these hands-on jobs are between 19-35. This is significant when placed next to IT jobs and the labor market in general where 32% of the total workforce is between 19-35.
Something else of note, the majority—55%—of the bartender workforce is between 19-35.
The old-timey jobs on our list have a 50-50 split between men and women. Some of the jobs (butchers, barbers, and chefs) are heavily weighted toward men. Others (hairdressers, bakers, and oddly enough, bartenders) are more weighted toward women.
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