Despite increased focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs, hard labor is still a major driver of the national economy.
Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that employment for construction workers and hand laborers/movers has grown faster than employment in STEM jobs over the past five years. While STEM careers tend to command higher salaries, wage increases for careers in manual labor have also outpaced STEM. Wages for STEM careers grew at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent between 2013 and 2018, whereas wages for construction workers and hand laborers/movers grew by 2.9 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.
While employment and wage growth might be strong, working in a physically demanding job can be both taxing and dangerous. Research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows that out of 4,674 worker fatalities in private industry in 2017, more than 20 percent were in a construction field.