SHADES OF "GREY" IN THE WORKFORCE: White, grey, and blue collar workers are haunted by the past and worried about the future, but seemingly content with the present.

Author:Karami, Sheena

FOLLOWING the inaugural survey of blue collar workers in the U.S., Express Employment Professionals once again has partnered with The Harris Poll to learn more about how today's white collar workers compare with blue collar employees and those who fall in the middle--grey collar professions.

Despite a similar outlook of the future, regardless of collar color, the survey revealed American workers have substantial student loan debt, are not saving enough for retirement, but feel their jobs provide a good living for the present.

Grey collar work combines some of the manual labor aspects of blue collar labor but has components of white collar work. For the purposes of this study, Harris defines grey collar as working in jobs such as airline pilot or flight attendant, farmer or land manager, certified or licensed salesperson, clergy, childcare worker, engineer, firefighter, paralegal, military, teacher, or nonphysician health care professional.

Grey collar industries emerged as the forgotten workforce when comparing demographics and sentiments between the traditional stereotypical white and blue collar jobs, but with 40% of grey collar workers expecting substantial job growth in their fields over the coming years, they are an important segment to survey in order to capture accurately U.S. employment data as a whole.

For workers with a high-school diploma or less, more than half look back and wish they had a four-year degree or attended a community college or vocational school. Seventy-nine percent of grey collar workers and 72% of blue collar workers believe they would have had more opportunities if they had attended college.

For those with a college degree, 35% of grey collar workers and 24% of white collar workers say they think the higher education they received is absolutely essential to their current job. In fact, 79% of grey collar and 70% of white collar workers think going to college was worth every penny.

However, some college-educated workers express regret about their decision, wishing they had attended community college, vocational school or had gone straight into the workforce instead (46% blue collar, 31% white collar, 30% grey collar). Nearly one in three college graduates say they have too much student loan debt (32% grey collar, 31% white collar) and cannot find a good job despite their college degree (33% white collar, 28% grey collar). Eighteen percent of white collar workers and 16% of grey collar workers have at least...

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