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Report: Good Jobs Available for Those Without Bachelor’s

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by Jamaal Abdul-Alim


Despite the decline of manufacturing that made good jobs for high school graduates a rarity, there are still 30 million good jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, a new report being released today from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce shows.

And while a large portion of those good jobs are still in manufacturing and held by individuals with only a high school diploma, the situation is changing as the economy shifts from blue-collar industries to skilled-services industries, such as health services and financial services, according to the report titled “Good Jobs that Pay Without a BA.”

Dr. Anthony Carnevale

And the new non-Bachelor’s degree jobs are favoring workers with some post-secondary education, particularly an associate’s degree, states the report, produced by center director Dr. Anthony Carnevale, along with researchers Dr. Jeff Strohl, Dr. Ban Cheah, and Neil Ridley.

For instance, the report notes that since 1991, the number of good jobs held by workers with only a high school diploma decreased by 1 million. Meanwhile, good jobs have gone increasingly to those with an associate’s degree. Such jobs increased by 3 million during the same timeframe.

The report comes ahead of plans by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce this fall to establish a new interactive website —  goodjobsdata.org — to illuminate where the good jobs are nationally, at the state level, as well as by industry, occupation and wage.

The report and website are meant to help policymakers formulate better strategies to reinvigorate America’s middle class.

“If policymakers want to get serious about restoring the health of the middle class, mapping this education and workforce landscape — both the educational pathways through sub-baccalaureate education and the occupational pathways available to workers at different levels — is crucial,” the report states.

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The report provides a look at employment shifts in the economy and breaks down the portion of good non-bachelor’s degree jobs by race, ethnicity and gender. Men hold good jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree at more than twice the rate of women — 70 to 30 percent, respectively, according to the report.

The report defines a “good job” as one that pays $35,000 or more. Among blue collar jobs, they include construction workers, plumbers and welders, drivers and machine operators, to name a few. Among skilled service workers, they include human resource workers, nurses, police officers and bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks, financial managers and computer support specialists.

While the raw number of good jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree has increased from 27 million in 1991 to 30 million today, the share of such good jobs has declined from 60 percent to 45 percent of all good jobs, the report states.

Bachelor’s degree holders have an increased share of the good jobs, at 36 million, the report states.

While manufacturing jobs are on the decline, the loss of those non-bachelor’s degree jobs is being offset by growth in financial, health care and leisure and hospitality and personal services, the report shows.

White men with high school diplomas still hold the largest share of non-bachelor’s degree jobs, the report states, but the situation is changing on all fronts.

For instance, good jobs for those who only have a high school diploma declined by 8 percent since 1991, according to the report, but good jobs held by those with some college grew by 11 percent and those held by Associate’s degree holders grew by 83 percent.

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While the percentage of good non-bachelor’s degree jobs held by Whites was more than 80 percent in 1991, today Whites hold less than 70 percent of such jobs. Hispanic / Latino workers went from holding 5 percent of good non-Bachelor’s degree jobs in 1991 to about 15 percent today. The percentage of such jobs held by Blacks has hovered around 10 percent throughout the same time period.

“The brightest economic prospects for workers without BAs are found more and more in skilled-services industries, such as healthcare and financial services, in which some college education has become much more important,” the report concludes. “To compete effectively, workers need some level of postsecondary education and training. In addition, a variety of non-degree credentials are sometimes necessary to get those jobs, or to advance in them.”

Jamaal Abdul-Alim can be reached at jabdul-alim@diverseeducation.com or you can follow him on Twitter @dcwriter360.

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