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Minnesota leads nation in good jobs that don’t need a four-year degree

Minnesota is one of the top states in the nation for good jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. That’s the finding of a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

The report defines a good job as one that pays $35,000 or more annually, or $45,000 or more for workers age 45 or older. A wage of $35,000 amounts to about $17 an hour, viewed by many experts as a living wage.

There are 30 million such jobs nationwide, but generally, candidates need more than a high school degree to get them. Almost half—45 percent—of ‘good’ Minnesota jobs, by the study’s definition, were held by workers without a bachelor’s degree, compared to 50 percent in Wyoming, the top state, and 33 percent in Kansas, the bottom state. Other states with a high proportion of such jobs were New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Utah.

Recently, MinnPost speculated about why Minnesota offers so many good jobs for workers without a four-year degree:

One reason the Minnesota economy might be doing well…is that it has higher shares of employment in fields like manufacturing and health care services. Those sectors tend to have more opportunities for people without college degrees.

In Minnesota, 11 percent of employment is in manufacturing, compared to 8.6 percent in the U.S., according to Oriane Casale, assistant director of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development….

Plus, Minnesota’s manufacturing sector is more focused on durable goods (goods that last for more than three years) which tend to be more expensive to manufacture and transport than non-durable goods.

The Wall Street Journal also weighed in on the Georgetown study, pointing out the importance of post-secondary training in today’s economy (pay wall):

Among non-college degree holders, only workers with an associate degree had better odds of finding a good job in 2015 than they did in 1991, Georgetown found. High-school graduates and dropouts, and people with some college, are all faring worse now than before, the report says.

The Georgetown Center’s director, Anthony Carnevale, noted that, today, “you need to be in a program that leads directly to those jobs,” such as a community college or a certification program. “And you need to hold your institution accountable to being able to prepare you for a job.”

Increasingly, workers understand this, says the Journal:

The number of career-focused certificates awarded by community colleges, in fields such as electronics engineering, emergency management and video production, more than doubled between 2000 and 2014, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

As noted above,

In 2015, Wyoming had the highest share of non-college jobs thanks to a boom in mining and other natural-resource industries, coupled with a low overall population. It was followed by New Jersey and Maryland, densely populated states with more diverse economies.

Soon, people who want to better their employment situation will have access to a new tool that will tell them where in the country they can look to find greater opportunity, the Journal concludes:

This fall, Georgetown, in concert with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., will launch a Good Jobs Index that maps the states and occupations where people without college degrees can find economic opportunities that pay at least a living wage.

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