A jewelry polisher can make $12.50/hr.
Now, a polisher used to be the entry you used to get into the jewelry biz. You went to classes, learned to make pretty things, then realized you didn't have the several thousand dollars you'd need for equipment. So you'd go to a jewelry place and get paid minimum wage for polishing, but as a side benefit, you'd be able to use their equipment.
Today, there aren't enough people to polish jewelry.
There also aren't enough welders.
Or enough laborers period.
I can think of two reasons for this problem, and I'll explain them in order :)
First, we've got a lot of skilled people, and a lot of them really want to use their skills. You don't want to see this 50-thousand-dollar (or, often, more) college education go to waste. Unfortunately, this means that they'll *only* take jobs in their chosen field, and if there aren't jobs in that field, they won't do anything else. A physics doctorate is not going to want to flip burgers, for example, and there are relatively few people who want to tackle the physical skills - welding and construction, for example. Demand goes up, so does pay.
The second problem is even worse. People want technological education. So they go to college and demand a technological education. Unfortunately, colleges don't pay much. So people who are good at tech stuff can get more money - and probably enjoy themselves more, not having to teach a bunch of people who really are only going into it for the money - by actually working in the field. The people who teach the students are, generally speaking, not very good at it. Therefore, the students aren't very good at it. But they paid their multi-ten-thousand-dollars and they want a degree! End effect: lots of people with lots of pieces of paper that say they know lots of things that they really don't.
One of the people I know online was recently trying to hire some coders. One of the applicants had a PhD in comp sci, and claimed to be a C++ expert.
interviewer: Name two STL containers in C++.
applicant: um, uh, err . . .
If you've been through a C++ class you ought to know at least std::map and std::vector. Those are the basics. Someone better might know of std::list. The obscure ones are std::multimap, std::set, and std::multiset.
Someone who claims to be an expert oughta be able to name *one*!
So there's the problem - tons of unqualified people who refuse to do anything else. As a result, the relatively "unskilled" positions have absurd wages, comparitively. People who actually take the time to specialize in one of those positions can pull enormous paychecks. (I've heard of someone who learned underwater welding, works two weeks out of the year, and lives quite comfortably.)
The real problem is distinguishing the people who know what they're doing from the people who claim to know what they're doing. As always.
I might post again later on . . . for now, I eat.