Louis Johnston, a new policy fellow for Growth and Justice, has produced a timely and cogent analysis of labor market data presented at last month’s Minnesota Economic Association annual meeting. As Johnston writes here and here, both markets and public policy are falling short for those lacking higher education credentials.
Johnston examined data from Steven J. Davis (University of Chicago) and John Haltiwanger (University of Maryland), which indicates that men and women without college degrees in 2009-2011 had a significantly lower employment rate than their peers ten, twenty, and thirty years ago. (Visit the links above for detailed graphs illustrating this point.) As Johnston explains, this has a lot to do with the demand for increasingly skilled labor. More and more employers require credentials beyond high school that aren’t necessarily college degrees. In the 1950s, only 5 percent of jobs required some credentials besides a college degree. Today, that number has rose to 40 percent, making it more difficult for those without higher education to find work.
Minnesota’s workforce needs to include those populations to create a strong, balanced, and equitable economy. People of color number disproportionately among those without college degrees, as the graph [above] demonstrates. Shutting them out of the workforce also shuts out Minnesota’s potential for growth.
Johnston suggests that public policy create links between those populations and companies who want to hire those without college degrees, and Growth & Justice agrees.
According to our “Good Jobs Wanted” policy report, support for economic development projects must be tied to diversity hiring goals and Community Benefits Agreements. Targeting entrepreneur and business development programs to businesses located within communities of color will also increase employment within those neighborhoods. The “Skills Training: Here, There, Everywhere” report supports designing alternative, competency-based occupational training and career pathways options to increase qualifications in the workforce. Acting together, these policy actions will increase the supply of labor while also creating a more inclusive demand for it. A labor market that only accepts college credentials will falter. Only through addressing both ends of the economy can we remedy alarming unemployment rates.