The blue collar road to a well-paying “good job” is not a dead end, but more of a route “under construction” with some slight detours, according to a new study and website from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW).
And at the end of this road are 30 million jobs with median salaries around $55,000 for people without Bachelor’s degrees. That’s more than a livable wage in many U.S. states.
With support from JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s “New Skills at Work” initiative, CEW launched its “Good Jobs Data” website this month with an accompanying report and informative video on its findings which you can watch above.
What does a “good job” for the 75 million high school-educated-only workforce entail anymore? CEW says that a good job begins with a $35,000 base salary which turns out to be $17 an hour. Of these 30 million good jobs out there, 14 million of them can earn workers between $35K and $55K.
Many of these good jobs are now being found in growth sectors in finance and healthcare, reflecting the rise of middle-skill work requiring some college or technical certification. CEW reports that the number of good jobs decreased for high school-only workers but the number of good jobs requiring an Associate’s degree increased by 83 percent.
As the nation’s workforce adapts to pressures brought on by structural unemployment by re-skilling for good jobs, it has turned out to be a boon for the current low unemployment economy.
CEW says that “skilled-service” jobs have surpassed the amount of lost “good jobs” in dominant employment sectors like manufacturing and transportation. Since 1991, these industries have experienced a loss of around 3 million jobs, due to increased automation and offshoring. What the study found was that skilled-services employment netted 4 million good jobs in that time.
To maintain this growth, CEW says changing education, especially at the community college level, is paramount. They recommend that post-secondary education must match the demands of the job market. In California, where a majority of “good jobs” are found, the community college system is reinventing itself as a regionally-aligned workforce creator to boost the amount of skilled workers by 1 million.
So despite losses in good jobs available to workers with just a high school degree, CEW says that there is plenty to be optimistic about. With a little bit of education, American workers have shown that they can still attain good jobs in the new economy and get paid, all without acquiring a BA. Keeping this good news going will be the challenge for policymakers, educators and employers to face together.
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