By Danielle Paquette August 15 at 7:00 PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Kipp Glenn grew tired of standing for eight-hour shifts, assembling steel furnace doors. His knees ached from 25 years on the concrete factory floor. So even after President Trump made his job at Carrier a symbol of American prosperity and vowed to save it, the Indiana native took a buyout.
"What we want to call 'blue-collar jobs' are on the way out," he said.
At a time when the Trump administration argues that creating manufacturing jobs is a critical national goal — even coordinating with states on generous subsidy packages to woo blue-collar employers — many factory workers are making a surprising decision: They're quitting.
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Government data shows workers in the sector are giving up their jobs at the fastest pace in a decade. That's a powerful sign, economists say, that workers think they can find work elsewhere.
Part of this confidence stems from the nation's 4.3 percent unemployment rate, a 16-year low. But they say they also fear robots zapping jobs in the future, while many workers have tucked away savings from union-championed raises and retirement benefits.
Former Carrier employee Brenda Battle talks to T.J. Bray at Sully's Sports Bar & Grill in Indianapolis on July 20. (Chris Bergin/For The Washington Post)
Leaving steady work, of course, carries risks, and some who quit may elect to stay in the field. As Trump and other politicians have argued, manufacturing pay has historically provided higher wages and more benefits than other types of blue-collar work. And there is no guarantee that these workers, who often possess just a high school diploma, will not encounter new challenges in an economy that favors those with more education. Many others who have been forced out of the industry over the past 20 years because of increased automation and outsourcing have struggled to find equally rewarding work.