Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Hip New Masters of Craft Jobs

The Wall Street Journal reports:
Gentrification isn’t just taking place in working-class neighborhoods. It’s happening to jobs, too.

Walk around parts of Brooklyn, Portland or Pittsburgh, and you’ll find stylish cocktail bars, barbers and the occasional butcher shop staffed by young, college-educated employees. For an affluent segment of today’s urban economy, these jobs have been revalued from low-status semi-manual labor to glamorous occupations, says sociologist Richard Ocejo.

In his new book “Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy,” Mr. Ocejo examines the forces driving a resurgence of occupations such as butcher and bartender among young middle-class urbanites. A similar dynamic is at work with a handful of other jobs, including craft brewer, bookbinder, furniture maker and fishmonger.

The Labor Department projects that between 2014 and 2024 the number of bartenders and barbers in the U.S. will grow 10%, while butchers will see a 5% increase, compared with a 7% job growth for all occupations over the same period. Median pay for these jobs was less than $30,000 a year in 2016.

Millennials are drawn to these occupations, in part, as a reaction to “the ephemerality of the digital age,” says Mr. Ocejo, a sociology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Distinct from many of today’s most vaunted jobs in fields like information technology and financial services, these trades “are based in using your hands, with actual tools and materials, to provide a tangible concrete product,” he says.

To attract young people with college degrees and other options in the labor market, jobs usually have an element of performance to them, Mr. Ocejo says. In most of the careers he studied for “Masters of Craft,” workers interact closely with customers, often in a public setting where their skill and knowledge can be admired. That’s why some manual positions like electrician and plumber are unlikely to experience the same “revalorization,” he says.
It should be noted that it is the gains in overall productivity which make many products cheap that allow those who choose to enter these masters of the craft jobs able to do so. Without decent quality low-priced alternatives, these craftsmen wouldn't be able to enter these jobs.

In other words, consider robots the hero here, they make assembly line products cheaply so more people can become craftsmen, Thus, the new robot age will also, counterintuitively, become the age of the craftsman.



  1. Further, without a) government interference preventing entry into so many occupations, b) insane levels of legal complexity requiring highly paid expert guidance and c) real estate bubbles caused by government, things (especially housing) wouldn't cost so much and many current occupations wouldn't pay so much.

    Without government making private discrimination a crime, people could live closer together and wouldn't have to commute from 38 Mile Road (the distance from downtown) to downtown Detroit to have a safe neighborhood or school. This not only would save money but would leave far more undeveloped natural areas.

    Oh, and "progressives" are not really serious about "the environment".

    And finally, the entire problem of "terrorists" and gangbanger crime simply dissipates into the air with a PPS.

  2. How are they going to pay back their student loans with jobs like these (and how does gender studies prepare one for these crafts)? Taxpayers, watch out.