New report shows shift to college jobs and earnings; Kansas schools respond

New report shows shift to college jobs and earnings; Kansas schools respond

A new national report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center) found that 99 percent of job growth in the United States since the Great Recession has gone to workers with at least some postsecondary education.

Kansas Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson told the State Board of Education this week the study underscores the importance boosting both high school graduation and college participation, two outcomes of the board’s “Kansans Can” initiative.

The report, “America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots,” says that out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million went to workers with more than a high school education and 8.4 million went to workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher, while employment of workers with a high school diploma or less only grew by 80,000 jobs in the recovery.

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“The modern economy continues to leave Americans without a college education behind,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and lead author of the report. In the report, “college” refers to any postsecondary education, including technical certificates and two-year associate’s degree.

Kansas Association of School Boards spokesperson Mark Tallman says Kansas schools have been responding to this trend. “According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.1 percent of Kansans aged 18-24 have some college education, including any postsecondary hours, a technical education certificate, an associate’s degree or higher; up from 51.9 percent in 2005. In 2014 Kansas ranked seventh in the nation in percentage of 18-24-year-olds participating in postsecondary education.”

The percent of 18-24-year-old Kansans who have completed a four year degree rose from 9.7 percent in 2005 to 10.3 percent in 2014. “Keep in mind that only about one-third of Kansans in that six-year age group – those who are 23 and 24 years old – could earn a four-year degree within that time period,” said Tallman. “This means the percent of Kansas who could have earned a four-year degree and did so within six years of graduation rose from about 29 percent to over 34 percent. Kansas ranked 19th nationally in the percent of 18-24-year-olds with a four-year degree.”

However, even with these improvements, Tallman says Kansas will still struggle to meet previous projections from the Georgetown Center, which said by 2020 about 71 percent of Kansas jobs will require some training beyond high school and 35 percent will require a four-year degree or higher.

Improving the rates of high school graduation and postsecondary participation and completion has been a key focus of the Kansas State Board of Education’s “Kansans Can” initiative. A second focus has been working with each student to develop an individual plan of study based on career interests.

Commissioner Randy Watson noted that the Kansas State Board of Education was already deeply engaged in increasing the percent of students with some type of post secondary credential. “The State Board of Education vision for education – ‘Kansas Will Lead the World in the Success of Each Student’, drives their belief that all students should be moving toward completing some type of education beyond high school.”

The recession and recovery have hastened a long-term change in the composition of the American workforce. In 2016, for the first time, workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are a larger proportion of the workforce (36 percent) than those with a high school diploma or less (34 percent). Workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree, who are typically employed in middle-skill occupations, comprise the remaining 30 percent of the workforce.

Nationally, the report found that workers with at least some postsecondary education now make up 65 percent of the total employment, and works with a four-year degree now earn 57 percent of all wages.

KASB research of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 64 percent of Kansans over age 24 have some postsecondary education, but earn 73 percent of wages; and 32 percent of Kansans over 24 have a four-year degree and earn 44 percent of all wages in the state.

Occupational and industry shifts have been major drivers of change in the labor market. Production industries, such as manufacturing, construction and natural resources, shifted from employing nearly half of the workforce in 1947 to only 19 percent in 2016. On the other hand, industries that employ managerial and professional workers such as healthcare, business, financial, education and government services accounted for 28 percent of the workforce in 1947 and have grown to encompass 46 percent of the workforce today.

The largest occupational group in the American economy, routine office and administrative support jobs, lost 1.4 million jobs during the recession and recovery, primarily because of automation and the rise in digital information storage. These occupations were a primary source of jobs for workers with a high school diploma or less, in many cases, so the decline of these jobs has hit less-educated workers particularly hard.

Other key report findings include the following.

  • In the recovery, graduate degree holders gained 3.8 million jobs, bachelor’s degree holders gained 4.6 million jobs, and Associate’s degree holders (and those with some college education) gained over 3 million jobs, compared to workers with a high school diploma or less, who added only 80,000 jobs.

  • About 5.8 million high-skill jobs in the recovery are going to workers with a B.A. or higher, whereas low skill jobs are the only area of growth for workers with a high school diploma or less.

  • Among industries, consulting and business services added the largest number of jobs in the recovery (2.5 million), while manufacturing added the second most (1.7 million). Manufacturing, however, still has 1 million fewer jobs than it did before the recession began. Construction added 834,000 jobs during recovery, but is still 1.6 million jobs short of its pre-recession employment — the largest gap among all industries.

  • Management added the largest number of jobs of any occupation since the recession began (1.6 million), while healthcare professional and technical occupations added the second most jobs (1.5 million).

“While it’s reassuring to see the economy back on track, we can’t ignore this tale of two countries with vastly different economic realities for those with and without a college education,” said Tamara Jayasundera, senior economist at the Georgetown Center and co-author of the report. “Fewer pathways to the middle class for those with less education will continue to reshape the labor market and American culture as we know it.”

The full report, “America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots,” can be accessed at: