Higher Education means Good Jobs

Having a good job generally means having meaningful work that pays well. It also increasingly means post-secondary education. This week JPMorgan Chase and the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce released Good Jobs that Pay without a BA, a report that shows the relationship between education levels and economic return.

Good Jobs aren’t just about the money, but in this report Chase and Georgetown CEW focus on work opportunity and reward. The Good Jobs report defines a good job as one that pays $35,000 as the minimum earnings for people under age 45 and $45,000 for workers over 45. Workers without a BA used to find these good jobs in manufacturing. That isn’t the case today. Manufacturing jobs are declining because of automation and off-shoring. Today’s good jobs for workers without a BA are found in skilled-service fields such as health care, financial services or information technology. And while these jobs don’t necessarily require a BA, they do require education beyond high school.

Education requirements are rising across all sectors of the economy. The Good Jobs report shows:
• The share of good jobs held by workers without a BA has declined from 60 to 45 percent
• Jobs for workers with BAs have increased by 8.4 million jobs compared to 3.2 million jobs for workers with less education
• Good jobs for workers with Associate’s degrees grew by 83 percent since 1991 and by 11 percent for workers with some college.

The growth of jobs that require more education means that workers who attain the highest level of education possible, will have the most economic success, according to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) report Education: The Foundation for Economic Success. “American workers are now competing with workers from around the globe, and technology advances are changing the skills that employers are looking for from their workers. With these changes, a high school diploma is often not enough to gain a job that pays well and offers good benefits. More education and training is needed to succeed in the labor market.”

More education equals higher job stability. In 2016, adults with a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent compared to 2.7 percent for adults with a bachelor’s degree. For adults with less than a high school education the unemployment rate rose to 7.4 percent.

More education also equals greater economic returns. The JEC states, “With every additional degree, workers earn higher wages.” On average, over their lifetime, adults with a high school diploma earn $400,000 more than adults without a diploma. Higher education means higher earnings. Over their lifetime:
• Associate’s degree holders earn $280,000 more than those with a high school diploma
• Bachelor’s degree holders earn $920,000 more than those with a high school diploma
• Graduate degree holders earn $1.6 million more than those with a high school diploma

More Americans are attaining higher education levels. Census Bureau figures show that 33.4 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 38 percent 10 years ago and 9.3 percent have a master’s degree. More Americans are seeing the relationship between higher education and the opportunity for work, good jobs and the economic reward.