Working Class Jobs

I’ve been doing research on technical schools and training programs for the past month. As an education writer, I’ve never tackled a topic with such a steep learning curve. Every time that I think I have a handle on the topic, a firm conclusion, an angle, I talk with someone else and learn something new.

Every other topic that I’ve covered, I had some direct experience as a starting point. I’ve been involved in education in one way or another for thirty years. I’ve been a special ed teacher, a grad student, an education policy researcher, a professor, a parent, and an education writer. But the world of the trades is something totally new. Call it a bubble if you like, but I just haven’t had much direct contact with the blue collar world.

One question I keep asking is whether or not these jobs that don’t require a college degree can lead to a middle class lifestyle, especially in higher income areas in the Northeast. On paper, it looks like the answer is no. But people are telling me “yes”. Those salary charts don’t tell the whole picture. People double up on jobs.

A kid in New York City can get a job in the police force out of high school. If the kid gets some college credits at the local community college, the starting salary is $42,500. The average salary is around $70. I’m not sure if that includes overtime. After twenty years, cops can retire, collect a full pension, and then get a job as a firefighter in New York City. They can double their salaries in their forties.

A high school guidance counselor told me stories about electricians who work for the school district. They work until 3:00 for the school, and then work independently in their community and collect another salary off the books. He sends his own kid to a technical high school, because he’s sure that his kid will be employable when he’s done with his education.

The weird thing as I’m talking to people about the trade job market, they start whispering. Like they don’t want to tell others about how it’s really done. They don’t want the college kids to find out how it works, because they’re worried that they’ll start poaching their jobs.

Another thing that I keep hearing is that a great number of the kids who are funneled into the trade schools are students with some issues, like learning disabilities, family problems, or come out of bad urban schools. They stumble with work and with these trade schools, because they can’t manage to wake up in time, can’t remember where they are supposed to be, can’t fill out applications for school or jobs. But those without those issues, or are able to overcome them, have tons of opportunities.

Anyway, that’s just some of the gossip that I’ve gotten in the past few weeks. It’s all anecdotal stories at this point. I’m trying to piece it all together into a big picture. It’s going to take a while.

 

 

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60 thoughts on “Working Class Jobs

  1. There’s plenty of ways. Most of them are going to involve getting several years of experience at something, so salary charts for tech school grads won’t capture it.

  2. In order for police officers to get that second job in NY state, they have to apply for and get a waiver. They can’t double-dip the NY state retirement system without that permission.

    Source: My brother-in-law and sister aren’t as well off as you’d think given that he retired with a full pension at age 42. On the other hand, Long Island. On the third hand, they bought their house in 1999, so what is their problem. On the fourth hand, cancer.

  3. You have a tough topic because it has many moving parts. The administration of programs is split among US Dept of Education and Dept of Labor.Some programs are funded via Perkins grants (Dept of Education), others by variius trade readjustment acts (Dept of Labor oversees those as well). There are also state programs in both K-12 and higher ed (community colleges like ours).

    Here are some links to organizations involved in career and technical education:
    https://www.skillsusa.org/
    https://nths.org/
    https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/cte/index.html (look also at Perkins Act material–this is major source of funds to pay for CTE program equipment)
    https://careertech.org/
    https://www.stlcc.edu/workforce/st-louis-workforce/ (this is a publication of our college, but the page lists our apprenticeship programs and other training we offer–most of it free to students).
    https://www.doleta.gov/ (Dept of Labor Employment and Training Administration)

  4. Fascinating summary.

    And, retiring at 42 means 20 years of work is supposed to pay for 40+ more years. A quick google search suggests that style of pension was only plausible when the workforce was growing, and future workers provided the benefits to the retirees.

    The “on the fourth hand, cancer”, which, translated, means, on the fourth hand the unexpected (they included prolonged job loss, expensive health issues, mental illness, addiction, of oneself or of a family member), is, something that came up in an article I read recently about retirement.

    Those issues are a problem for everyone, a problem of the personal assumption of individual risk, and the psychological barriers to preparing for long term, unlikely (but, everything is likely in the long term) negative risks (requiring individuals to act against everything we know about the science of behavioral incentives). But, I think they impact those who need to use their bodies for their work (police, fire, construction) even more than anyone else.

  5. WordPress shows two previous posts at 11D about education in it’s “related” links: One on Gifted education in NYC, written in January 2006! and one on education for the global market in 2010. I find the flashback pretty fascinating, and, yes, related.

  6. Thank you for realizing early on in your research that this is a really complicated arena. Retirement at 42 is not statistically common — although it’s easy to see why a police department with too many oldsters on the beat would not be ideal. In the building trades, there is the additional fact that some of what people do to augment their incomes is not entirely legal, or at least not approved. I have a brother in law who worked as a union iron worker until about the age of 50 (which is old for an iron worker who works building multi-story buildings). Then, somehow, he got a carpenter’s union card, so he could keep working. Not sure that was entirely kosher, although it certainly makes sense.

  7. Construction is also generally a young person’s game. At 20, I could do seven 12-hour night shifts a week, not least because that meant 44 hours at time-and-a-half, if we got all of our shifts and hours in. But could I have done that later, with small kids in the household? Could I be doing it still in my late 40s or early 50s? No. Everybody was trying to find an exit ramp. The best foreman I had, “Nubby” (because of his left thumb), was doing night classes in marketing.

    1. Doug said,

      “Everybody was trying to find an exit ramp.”

      That reminds me of my dad. When I was a kid, he was doing cedar salvage (like logging, but different). He liked it fine, but he had a goal of getting out of the woods by 35. I don’t think he quite managed, but close.

      All sorts of stuff starts happening to the human body around 40.

    2. Whew, 7 12 hour night shifts.

      I did all night experiments 24+ hours as a 20 something grad student. I cannot imagine doing that now,

  8. Also, shouldn’t you have an e-mail address for La Lubu? Blog admin privileges and all that. Ask her how it looks in the Midwest!

    (I could maybe also connect you with people in Louisiana and Texas. Because the NYC area isn’t everything, no matter what the locals tell you.)

  9. A starting salary of $42k is middle class by definition. No second job needed. Google says the median income in NYC is $54k and the average police officer makes $65k. I think you’re letting your personal situation skew what “middle class” means because you don’t want to admit you are upper class.

    1. Poor–Live on less than what full-time work would pay ($20K single, $40K couple)
      Working class–$20/40 to $100K, no college degree, work with your hands
      Middle class–$20/40 to $100K, college degree, don’t work with your hands
      Upper middle class–$100K to $400K, otherwise same as middle class
      Upper class aka rich–$400K plus, the 1%

      1. Questioning your definition of working class. I think the new definition is “no BA” rather than works with hands. I’ve been talking with tech and trade schools that offer AA or certificates. They’re training students in all sorts of jobs with no manual labor — network administrators, hospital equipment, occupational therapy, and so on. With two incomes, those families are pulling in over $150 around here.

    2. alwaysthecritic said,

      “A starting salary of $42k is middle class by definition. No second job needed. Google says the median income in NYC is $54k and the average police officer makes $65k. I think you’re letting your personal situation skew what “middle class” means because you don’t want to admit you are upper class.”

      I kind of want to send you to NYC to support a family of 3 or 4 on $54k.

      Interested?

      1. Amy: It’s certainly possible. I never suggested it was fun or easy. But people do it. I have a hard time accepting that somebody earning a median wage and has food, clothing, and shelter is “poor” or even “lower class”. The median is, by definition, the middle. I mean, you could just stipulate that we’re all poor. But what does the word mean at that point? Does poor mean having no anxiety or worries about the future? Because I don’t think money takes those things away. You could be a billionaire and still worry about your mother’s health or your daughter’s marriage, etc. Does middle class mean that you have no problems that more money could solve? I don’t think it has ever meant that.

      2. always the critic said,

        “Amy: It’s certainly possible. I never suggested it was fun or easy. But people do it. I have a hard time accepting that somebody earning a median wage and has food, clothing, and shelter is “poor” or even “lower class”.”

        Well, the issue here is that NYC is not a place where middle class families stick around. They get the heck out. So, you’re left calculating a median based on a set that is missing the middle. The lifestyle involved in living as a family of 3 on $54k in NYC is quite different than the lifestyle involved in living in San Antonio on $54k as a family of 3.

        (I’m speaking as a refugee from the DC metro, which has similar issues with the missing middle.)

        Now I’m wondering what the cut-offs are for welfare benefits in New York State…

        https://health.data.ny.gov/Health/Women-Infants-and-Children-WIC-Income-Eligibility-/6zdy-fajb

        It looks like a household of 5 (I happen to have a household of 5 people) is still eligible for WIC at $53k.

        So, while you may believe that $54k is solidly middle class, the state of New York does not.

      3. But, AmyP, the NYC policemen and firemen don’t move to San Antonio. They survive here, though admittedly many of them do not live within the City limits.

      4. “I kind of want to send you to NYC to support a family of 3 or 4 on $54k.”

        I’m iffy on whether this can be done, and I’m frugal and not interested in sending my kids to private school.

        “I never suggested it was fun or easy. But people do it. I have a hard time accepting that somebody earning a median wage and has food, clothing, and shelter is “poor” or even “lower class.”

        Don’t underestimate how many people make X income but are subsidized in some ways. One of my former students lives in Brooklyn, but only because her parents are subsidizing their rent.

      5. Laura said,

        “FYI, we lived in NYC with two kids for under $54k. With Jonah, we lived under $30K. It can be done, but it ain’t pretty.”

        Gotta correct for inflation.

        (I know it feels like it was yesterday!)

  10. Another idea: some people are working for cash at least part of the time and/or their income taxes may not be in order.

    That’s gotten to be my leading theory on the mystery of why so many people are unwilling to file FAFSA for their kids.

  11. Sorry to be a thread hog, but it occurs to me that some families would be able to pass down a house in the family. (This doesn’t work if everybody has 3+ kids, though.)

  12. The plumbers, electricians, etc. we’ve hired in the past have been family businesses. Often, the wife is either the bookkeeper/scheduler, or a partner in the business. Or she works a job that supplies the health insurance. Sometimes the kids join in.

    A common pattern in our area is that kids go away to college, and don’t come back home. A subset of my high school classmates settled down in our hometown. I think they’re more likely to have chosen to work in the family businesses (restaurants, plumbers, local police, nursing, etc.) Some live near their parents (some live in apartments in their parents’ garages.)

    It’s a different life trajectory, but there are advantages. The grandchildren know their grandparents; the family can pitch in when there’s an emergency.

  13. So I am on our local school committee and we have the exact OPPOSITE problem with our voc school – kids in the urban district (we’re suburban but partner with the urban town on this) think it’s a leg up on college admissions, so they’re draining off the best and brightest who want to escape the urban school and so have no intention of going into a trade. The kids who might actually want to go into a trade – and who are often disengaged from traditional schooling – are getting shut out. It’s really fascinating – there are deep concerns about the voc school getting away from its mission given all the hype about vocational training. The mayor in the urban area next to me is REALLY up in arms about this – and is also very publicity hungry. I’d be happy to set up a conversation between the two if you if it would help.

    1. I know that a local high school grumbles about successful nearby voc/tech schools. Those schools are oversubscribed, so they run a waiting list. They’re able to set standards for grades, behavior and attendance in the students they accept–and those students’ home school districts pay tuition to the voc/tech schools.

      My impression is that in this area, local parents are enthusiastic about their children learning trades. I’d also say that the “best and the brightest” are valuable to local school administrators as their test scores can make a difference in the public’s perception of school quality. The tech schools may offer a better education, though, whether or not the students continue into the trades or not.

      1. That’s exactly what’s happening here. By using grades and attendance, the school ends up shutting out some of those students who are unlikely to go to college, but who would have a good path to the middle class via the trades. Our local FB community group is full of parents saying – send your kids to voc to get a leg up on college. Those are the kids who would already be going to college because their parents are thinking about it in middle school.

        But if you look at the data, it’s not the case that they are necessarily doing better at preparing kids for college – their average SAT/ACT test scores are well below those of our high school, and our rate of students going to college is much higher. As another example, our voc school is telling students if they want to go to med school, they should go there. All of the sending schools offer AP science courses that the voc school does not, so that’s just not true.

        I guess the biggest part of the problem for me is that middle class and upper middle class parents are hijacking a viable path to the middle class for other kids (the trades) all in order to give their kids a leg up on something they would probably get anyway (acceptance to college).

      2. Shannon – that’s EXACTLY what I think is going on country-wide. Not ready to jump on this yet. I have to finish off some research for one venue, and then put together an outline for a fellowship. But I’ll follow up later.

      3. And for the record, Shannon = slnoonanj. Not sure why WordPress is switching me back and forth or how to change that.

      4. @slnoonanj (trying to deal with the threading)

        But if you look at the data, it’s not the case that they are necessarily doing better at preparing kids for college – their average SAT/ACT test scores are well below those of our high school, and our rate of students going to college is much higher.

        I looked up the stats for the two high schools I mentioned. It’s interesting, because the scores do show that the local public high school’s SAT scores are higher than the voc/tech school’s figures. Only half of the voc/tech school’s students take the SAT, compared to about 90% for the local high school.

        For a voc/tech school, you’d expect the college-going rate to be lower, wouldn’t you?

        I think that means the “send your kid to vocational school to get a leg up on college” is marketing, which does not necessarily reflect family’s actual behavior. That is, middle and upper class families also have children who are not suited for college–and they know it. Just because they’re middle or upper class does not mean that their children are doomed to the academic track by ability, temperament or inclination.

        I will ask, though, how many students end up being sorted out from the college track at too young an age. Especially boys!

      5. Cranberry – the “get a leg up on admission” is what I am seeing families posting on our local community FB page, with thousands of members. Anecdotal to be sure, but they are definitely buying in to that, even if it’s just the marketing from the voc school. It’s a super complicated situation here to be sure, and I certainly do not take the position that kids who go to a voc school shouldn’t go to college or that middle class parents can’t encourage their kids to go into the trades. But I do have real concerns that middle class and upper middle class parents are gaming the system, and voc schools are encouraging this, which I see as a departure from their mission. Reasonable people may disagree on that position though. I do hope that Laura does something on this – I would be interested to know how wide-spread this is as that’s something I cannot get a handle on right now.

    2. slnoonanj,

      In our state, vocational/technical schools are often supported by groups of towns, bound by a regional agreement. As those agreements were signed decades ago, they weren’t necessarily flexible enough to keep up with changes in town demographics. Some small towns (with upper-middle income families) have found that their required contributions to the district were prohibitively expensive, given that almost none of the town’s children chose to attend the district. Some of the towns have chosen to leave at least one regional/vocational district over such issues.

      So it might be strategically wise for a regional district to encourage middle and upper-middle income families to send their children to a vocational technical school.

  14. I have a PhD, but come from a rural, working class background. I’m glad to learn you are actually trying to learn something about blue collar and working class people.

    Becoming a plumber or electrician is not less difficult or rigorous than getting a liberal arts degree. Plumbing, for example, requires knowledge of fluid dynamics as well as law (regulations and building codes). Successful trades people are smart. You cannot be someone who says “I’m not good at math”. I hear many ‘educated’ people say that sort of thing*. Good tradespeople can hold their own academically; they are good at solving problems; and they typically have good people skills. The idea that this is where you send the kids with learning disabilities, emotional problems, home life problems etc, is stupid and frankly, is done from bigotry. It’s pushed by school administrators/counselors that lack any understanding of what working in a trade requires.

    Also, these people “They stumble with work and with these trade schools, because they can’t manage to wake up in time, can’t remember where they are supposed to be, can’t fill out applications for school or jobs.” will always have problems. There isn’t a fix for someone who can’t – at a minimum – show up.

    *If you can’t handle math through calculus, you are not educated. If you understand only one language, you are not educated. (Calculus is NOT advanced math, anyone who makes THAT claim is ignorant.)

    1. “If you can’t handle math through calculus, you are not educated. If you understand only one language, you are not educated. (Calculus is NOT advanced math, anyone who makes THAT claim is ignorant.)”

      My last math class was college algebra/trig in 11th grade 28 years ago.

      But I’m hoping that understanding four languages will be good enough to bump me back into the “educated” group.

      1. My point is that you shouldn’t think that pushing kids who don’t do well in school into the trades is a solution. To become a plumber or electrician or HVAC tech requires quite a bit of classroom training as well as practical training. The kind of kid who can’t show up or control their own behavior isn’t going to be a plumber or electrician. They will probably get a job as a helper/unskilled laborer and they will lose that job when they don’t show up or when they blow up at their boss or foreman for telling them what to do. I have worked for construction companies in the past, and there is a never ending parade of people who can’t hold a job.

        On the other hand, the trades offer more chances to people. They lose their unskilled laborer job and they are able to go get another one. If they manage to get it together, there is an opportunity to move up and build skills and increase their earnings. But some people never get it together. It is sad and not unusual to see 40 yr olds working as unskilled laborers. Often alcohol or drugs play a role, but some just never get it together.

    2. I’ve always though the phrase “I’m not good at math” is just as uneducated as “I’m not good at reading”. But, I think choosing calculus, in its current analytic form and understanding another language is a pretty arbitrary definition of educated (though, I’m inclined to think all definitions based on content are arbitrary).

      I wholeheartedly agree that being capable of doing good work in lots of different areas requires intelligence and one of the true dangers in our modern world is shunting all the “intelligent” people to certain limited forms of analytic work because it is most heavily incentivized is a bad mismatch of talent and need. The bias against teaching as a profession for kids who have traditional intelligence (i.e. do well on tests of many sorts, which allows them entry) is one example for me. I want both my plumbers and teachers to be smart and capable of independent thinking to produce the best outcomes.

      1. I actually think the bias is more that we shunt people who are good taking tests and good at school work into being teachers. My experience is they tend to be people who liked school – the regimentation, knowing that there is a findable answer. Homework is well defined, with rules and clear answers. That’s a very different kind of work than analytical work aimed at finding solutions. One of the hardest things to explain or help my research assistants deal with is that there is no ‘right’ answer. The problems we work on may not have a solution. We may only be able to address a part of something – lack of data, just too hard, problem ill-defined. Having to do the defining themselves really frustrates some of them. And, my research assistants typically come from the ivy league. They aren’t dumb, but they have difficulty dealing with ambiguity.

      2. “I actually think the bias is more that we shunt people who are good taking tests and good at school work into being teachers. My experience is they tend to be people who liked school – the regimentation, knowing that there is a findable answer. Homework is well defined, with rules and clear answers.”

        I love love love taking tests. I wish I could take the SATs again. I’ve always wanted to take the LSATs but never did because I never wanted to go to law school. I guess I always saw testing as a game I was really good at playing. I also drive my students crazy because they are in this whole thing for the grades and I’m not.

    3. There are plenty of kids, however, who are smart enough for the trades but do not want to spend time analyzing literature and comparing historical periods. That is, who don’t look that great in terms of grades in HS, and would prefer not to go to college. The math and sometimes science requirements for the trades are real, and strict; they do have to be able to communicate with each other and with customers; but vo-tech school would be a much better match than a regular high school curriculum. This orientation describes several of my brothers-in-law. They did terribly in high school, and have flourished in the trades.

  15. Hey look, I’m reflecting Cory Booker’s tweet that Laura retweeted: “We are dissatisfied because we live in a nation where we pay teachers so little that they take extra jobs to make ends meet.”

  16. Maine District 2! Instant Runoff Voting. It’s fun to see it in action at the national level (even though I think the love that people give to it is naive).

  17. I haven’t caught up on this thread, but I was discussing it elsewhere and got permission to share the following thoughts from a below-median income some-college NYC-area guy.

    Laura wrote:

    *On paper, it looks like the answer is no. But people are telling me “yes”.”*

    My NYC-area guy says:

    “If it’s unionized or state, you can make a decent middle class living, but you’re stuck in New York until retirement as these jobs generally don’t have equivalents that pay the same outside of the NYC metro area or other high cost of living locales. The ideal goal is to start young and retire at 55 and live in a COL area on a pension.”

    Laura wrote:

    *A kid in New York City can get a job in the police force out of high school. If the kid gets some college credits at the local community college, the starting salary is $42,500.*

    My NYC-area guy writes:

    “FWIW, as somebody sitting on a civil service list, I’d argue it’s not *that* easy. NYPD requires 60 college credits and a high score on a civil service exam, and given NYPD’s lax residency requirements, one would have to score very well in order to have a chance at police academy. The odds are even worse for the suburban police departments which are dominated by former NYPD officers. The same is true for some of the other testing regimes for the best paying blue collar positions, and the ones for transit that don’t require a degree now require a clean driving record which is hard for many people to maintain. Some of these city jobs have become the province of guys who bounce around a white collar or retail job until they finally get called up for a position…”

    “FWIW, NYPD has a decent testing regime, but that’s due to lots of minority outreach to try and increase diversity within the force. FDNY “tries”, but it’s generally been noted that due to the fire science orientation of the test, it’s easier for those within the department to guide their friends and family members through the process. Hence why any media depiction of a black or Hispanic NYC fire fighter makes nearly no sense to most New Yorkers. Even with civil service exams, some blue collar units end up having an FDNY approach to things because tests are given out every three to five years at best, the long wait to be called up discourages people*, and some of the tests are generally obscure for some smaller departments and agencies. And unless you’re told, most people don’t go looking for exams. And even if you test well, there’s no guarantee of actual hiring because the list could expire before the agency starts making offers.”

    “For example, how often does the Village of Garden City look for police officers for their small department? Or the township government for garbage men?

    “*I’m currently on a list that’s moving much faster than expected because they started calling the top scoring applicants nearly a year after testing. That’s considered lightening speed around here. By private sector standards, that’s insane.”

    AmyP again: I have gotten the impression that there’s a certain amount of nepotism in fire and police hiring.

    1. “I have gotten the impression that there’s a certain amount of nepotism in fire and police hiring.”

      Yep. Most every cop I know has a family member who is/was a cop.

      “how often does the Village of Garden City look for police officers”

      HAHAHAHA!!!! They don’t. Ever.

      My BIL tried to get into Suffolk for years; I think his partner eventually succeeded. Then he retired and moved to Tennessee.

      NYC-area police is a small, small world. They also own all the SRO and security jobs that cops take post-retirement.

  18. Vo-tech school can give a person a leg up at getting into an apprenticeship program, but that’s about it. It won’t give you a middle class (which I am defining old school: can afford a modest house, a car, pay your bills, and still have a little left over for somthing fun) life, since nonunion companies do not pay middle class wages and offer sparse-to-no benefits.

    The possible exception to this rule would be a wind tower program, which may help a person get hired by one of the wind tower manufacturers (they send crew to supervise and do QC for construction). I say “may” because everyone I met with the wind tower manufacturers or green-energy companies that own the projects has a college background (and yea, I’m talking about the maintenance and QC folks that climb the towers with us.)

    The ONLY way to have a decent living in the trades is to be union. Full retirement is at age 60 for journeymen in the IBEW. It is important to take care of your body, because if anything happens….that’s it.

    It is also important to look young. Ageism is real in the trades. I’m 51. I look like I’m in my mid-to-late 30s because I dye my hair (I’m not kidding). It keeps me on the job longer than the other folks who look their age. Part of this is a matter of luck (Mediterranean genes!), but….one of the good things about this work is that if you don’t have a serious injury or illness, this work will keep you young. Manual labor builds muscle and keeps you fairly lean if you don’t drink a lot. Don’t smoke, use sunscreen…that sort of thing.

    Ask questions! I will answer. We are getting a lot of warm-up breaks today.

  19. Some more info that may be helpful: one of the excellent benefits of being a union tradesperson is the “book system”. We have hiring halls that eliminate having to pound the pavement for work. You “sign the book” when out of work (what we call our “book signing tour”, as we usually sign several Local’s books), and then it’s a matter of checking online or by phone for job referrals. Referrals go out in the order you have signed, saving that local hands “book 1” gets first dibs, travelers second (“book 2”), out of classification (“book 3”), and anyone else (“book 4) . Also: much easier to file for unemployment with that referral system. I am currently working as a traveler in a neighboring Local. (something I do frequently)

    Which is the downside of the trades in the Rust Belt: more workers than work. Traveling is the norm now. I was able to catch a call at home for the wind farm (and that kind of got into my blood—I dig the climbing), but mostly I’m never home. That’s a hard life if you are married and/or have younger children.

  20. lubiddu — Where do you see the most growth? Environmental type jobs, like wind farms and solar panels? Do you see new types of people entering the field?

    1. It’s hard to say. In my more cynical moments, I think there isn’t going to *be* growth. Just shrinkage. Encourage your kids to go into a line of work where they can successfully get a good job in a foreign country.

      I think I’ll be able to ride out the next decade on the nuke circuit, wind towers, and maybe a peaker plant or some solar projects.

      1. The idea isn’t what we would want but what the voters of where you might want to move to would want.

        Have a MXGA hat, where X is the country of interest.

      2. The unemployment rate in the EU is 6.8 percent, so I don’t think my children will be moving there. I know it’s fun to say how the USA sucks and everything is better in foreign countries, but it doesn’t conduce to intelligent policy analysis or individual life plans.

    2. FWIW, I don’t think the people entering the trade now are any different than from when I entered the trade. Yes, they tend to have more education. Yes, there is a higher proportion of veterans. But both factors are due to the overall massive shrinking of opportunity out here in Flyover Country. More people are looking at the trades than previously because opportunities elsewhere have also dried up. The employer side of the apprenticeship committee prefers people with college and/or military experience.

      But as far as who we are as people? Our interests and activities outside of work? Same as ever. More Millenials went to college because what the hell else were they supposed to do, besides enter the military in wartime?

  21. Do the rural blue collar people who voted for Trump and hate urban liberals know how much money the Republican tax plan is saving me? I just looked it up.

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