Dropouts Face a Future with More Jobs But Less Options, Study Finds

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The number of jobs available to dropouts and high school graduates will go up this decade, but there also will be far more jobs for which they are not eligible, according to a study on the future of jobs in the Midwest states.

“The Midwest Challenge,” produced by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, states that in all but one Midwest state, the number of jobs available to high school dropouts will increase by as much as 10 percent. Similar increases are projected to occur for jobs that require only a high school diploma, although some states will only see a small increase in job offerings compared to that of 2008.

But in most of these states, job growth in areas that require postsecondary education is expected to outpace growth of jobs attainable by those without some college degree. North Dakota is the only state that the percentage increase in jobs for high school dropouts and graduates is higher than the job increase percentages in the other categories.

About 63 percent of jobs throughout the country will require “some form of postsecondary education and training” by 2018, the report said. Five of the nine Midwest states will exceed that average, with Minnesota and North Dakota hitting 70 percent by 2018, and the other four states all falling 1 percent or 2 percent below the national average.

Georgetown senior economist Nicole Smith, who co-authored the study, said she was not surprised that the number of jobs attainable to high school dropouts and graduates will go up by 2018.

"Over time, all jobs will eventually increase,” Smith said.

The recession is expected to end in 2017 and all of the job opportunities will begin to increase overall, said Smith. “Our concern is that the number of jobs available to people with less education is growing at a slower pace than those with postsecondary degrees."

According to Smith, the effort to connect high school dropouts and graduates to jobs is underfunded; the country is more concerned with connecting postsecondary educated people to occupations.
“We feel a lot more should be done to connect high school dropouts and graduates to jobs,” Smith said.

In the Plains states – Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota – the jobs available to high school dropouts will increase by 9 percent, 7 percent, 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Occupations available to high school graduates will increase by 9 percent, 7 percent, 6 percent and 8 percent, respectively, among the states.

The Mississippi River states– Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri – are relatively split in terms of how many jobs will be available to high school dropouts by 2018.  Illinois and Iowa are expected to have slightly higher increases in percentages at 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, while Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri are only supposed to see increases by 4 perecent, 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively.           

The Rust Belt – Indiana, Michigan and Ohio – will have the least number of jobs available to high school graduates and high school dropouts by 2018.  Indiana, the only state to see the number of job offerings for dropouts decrease by 2018, will see that number fall by 9 percent.  Jobs in Indiana available to high school graduates will only increase by 1 percent, as will jobs designated for high school dropouts and graduates in both Michigan and Ohio.

Click here to read “The Midwest Challenge.”