I disagree, Willie. You have a point that people learn how to do that kind of informal problem-solving before they ever step foot in an algebra class, but given that was just an off-the-cuff example, it doesn't really prove much. There's a critical point that you missed, which is that most students in 8th or 9th grade do not know their future occupation for certain. For that matter, even college-age adults cannot often say for certain where they'll end up working in the long run. We no longer live in the kind of society where a child can know early on what their occupation will be. Certainly, they may not go into a field where algebra or higher math skills are necessary, but if we exclude algebra (and other math classes) from the required general curriculum, then they're going to be excluded from those fields by default unless they "opt in" by taking algebra class.
Furthermore, a person may not intrinsically be good with certain kinds of math. For example, it took me two or three years in elementary school to get my head wrapped around fractions...yet I work in the computer science field, where understanding fractions is among the most basic of skills. There would have been no way for me or anyone else to predict that I would go into this field back when I was eight, or sixteen for that matter. I can understand the allure of saying that students shouldn't be required to take algebra unless they want to, but high school education is intended as a general education curriculum, preparing students to be able to take on a broad range of fields. And while something like algebra isn't required for all fields, it's required for enough that not taking it would close a lot of doors until it is taken.
I just don't think that's particularly wise. It emphasizes the short-term benefit of not having to take algebra class, at the long-term cost of closing off several dozen fields. Certainly, jobs like manual labor, service jobs, and other things of that nature wouldn't be affected...am I forgetting any? Many people end up having to work those kinds of jobs anyway, but by excluding algebra, it becomes far more likely, and much harder to get into a different field.