All things being equal, most Americans would rather have white not blue-collar jobs – though most people would rather be plumbers than politicians
Since the financial crisis and its aftermath, increasing attention has been paid to the dwindling number of manufacturing jobs in the US. In 1979 there were just under 20 million manufacturing workers in the US, and even as recently as 2000 more than 17 million Americans worked in manufacturing. Since then more than five million jobs have been lost, meaning that only 12 million Americans have manufacturing jobs. Bringing these jobs back to the US has become a focus of politicians on left and right, but it seems that Americans might not want to return to the factory.
The latest research from YouGov shows that for most Americans, if salary and benefits are the same, they would rather work with their mind instead of their hands. Richer Americans are the least likely to want to work with their hands. Only 20% of people in households with an annual income in excess of $100,000 would want to work with their hands, compared to 43% of Americans in households earning less than $40,000 annually.
71% of Americans would rather work in a cubicle than on an assembly line (29%). In fact, the only white collar job that loses out to a blue collar job is politician. 54% of Americans would rather work as a plumber than as a politician.
Asked whether they would rather have a poorly paid job that they loved or a well paid job that they hated, 66% of Americans want a job that they love while 34% would opt for the well paid but hated job. While certain groups (such as men and Hispanics) are somewhat more likely to opt for well paid but hated jobs, people in the Northeast are noticeably more likely than people in any other region to prioritize money (47%) over job satisfaction (53%).
Full poll results can be found here.