PRINCETON, Ind. (WEHT) — As people across the country celebrate Labor Day, our team spoke with some local union leaders about the state of the job market in the Tri-State.

“You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better paying job, with better benefits, anywhere,” says Ryan McRoberts, Business Manager with IBEW Local 16.

Union leaders say they want people to understand not just why the holiday is important, but what are the benefits of going into a unionized trade.

“I think this is wonderful. It’s a great way to make a living, building something and getting to see your accomplishments every day. You can make better wages than anywhere else,” says McRoberts.

With so many people in dire straits financially from student loans, union officials say the “earn while you learn” philosophy is what makes pursuing a trade unique from a standard college experience.

“For the first-year person coming out of college, yes, the trades are very competitive in wages…they’re not taking that hit right out of college, they’re already set as a journeyman ironworker the day they graduate,” says Shawn Russell, Business Manager with Ironworkers Local 103.

Although apprenticeship programs differ by trade, most graduates will receive an Associate’s Degree while getting valuable real-world experience.

“Once you graduate our apprenticeship you’ll come out debt free. There won’t be any student loans, and you’ll make money the entire time you’re going to school,” says McRoberts.

Union officials say that although the programs are competitive, they offer great opportunities for people who put in the necessary work. With all the new construction coming to the Tri-State now and in the future, officials add they don’t see lack of work being an issue anytime soon.

“There’s plenty of work going on, there is plenty of work coming up…Infrastructure package, we still haven’t seen a lot of that around here but it’s coming. The short-term, long-term future for union construction is looking great,” says Russell.