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dir="ltr">Chicago may be known as the economic engine of Illinois, but it’s the St. Louis area that’s got more opportunities for blue-collar workers, according to a new analysis.
A report from the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland examined what they call “opportunity jobs,” which are careers that earn more than the average wage, but don’t require a bachelor’s degree and how hospitable each of the nation’s largest metro areas are to them.
“The future looks particularly favorable for several occupations in health care and the skilled trades, but less so for some occupations in office and administrative support,” the report said, noting that jobs such administrative support careers are particularly vulnerable to automation.
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They looked at educational requirements from online job ads and the average wage for opportunity jobs – such as nursing, driving a truck and others – and weighed that against the cost-of-living in the area.
“The elevated cost of living in Chicago is one of the key downsides,” said Kyle Fee, senior analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
St. Louis was rated fifth-best in the nation, with a more than 30 percent share of opportunity jobs. For St. Louis, a big part of that was the lower-than-average cost of living.
“They really have the low cost-of-living that really makes a wage in St. Louis go a longer way,” Fee said.
Toledo, Ohio, was deemed the best market for blue-collar work in the nation.
Fee said local leaders could increase these opportunity occupations by attracting job creators who would hire these types of workers, invest in local training programs like apprenticeships, work with employers to be realistic when requesting a level of education when posting for the jobs, and enact policies that would keep living in the area affordable.