Hand Laborers and Material Movers Job Outlook
Overall employment of hand laborers and material movers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, as fast as the average of all occupations.
Projected employment change for specific groups of workers within this occupation is as follows:
- Employment of refuse and recyclable material collectors is expected to grow 20 percent from 2010 to 2020. Trash collection will continue to grow as population and income grow, and collectors will be needed to remove trash. An increase in recycling collection is expected to drive the rapid growth of this occupation.
- Employment of cleaners of vehicles and equipment is projected to increase 19 percent from 2010 to 2020. Faster than average growth in automobile dealers, where many of these workers are employed is expected to drive employment growth for this occupation. However, a decline in the use of full-service carwashes in favor of automatic conveyors may to limit their job growth somewhat.
- Employment of laborers and hand, freight, stock, and material movers is projected to increase by 15 percent from 2010 to 2020. The need for warehouses is expected to grow as consumer spending increases. However, greater automation will increase the efficiency of hand material movers. Most warehouses are installing equipment, such as high-speed conveyors and sorting systems and robotic pickers, that decreases the number of workers needed.
- Employment of hand packers and packagers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2010 to 2020. A decline in the use of baggers in grocery stores, where many workers are employed, is expected to dampen growth in this occupation. An increase in the use of self-service technology, such as self-checkout, and the growing number of cashiers who also bag groceries are contributing to the decline in baggers. However, those employed in warehouses are expected to see some employment growth.
- Employment of machine feeders and offbearers is expected to experience little or no change from 2010 to 2020. They are heavily employed in declining manufacturing industries in which automation is further decreasing the need for these workers. Additionally, other workers who operate the machines are increasingly doing the tasks of these workers.
Job prospects for hand laborers and material movers should be favorable. Despite slower growth in these occupations, the need to replace workers who leave the occupations should create a large number of job openings. As automation increases, the technology used by workers in some of these occupations will become more complex. Employers will likely prefer workers who are comfortable using technology such as tablet computers and handheld scanners.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition