Competitive Analysis & Competitive Intelligence

Not All ‘Good Jobs’ Require a Bachelor’s Degree

Although the decline in the manufacturing sector eliminated many good jobs for high school graduates, new research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center) in collaboration with global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. finds there are currently 30 million good jobs in the U.S. that pay well without a bachelor’s degree (B.A.). “Good jobs,” are defined as those that pay an average of $55,000 per year and a minimum of $35,000 annually.

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The study finds good jobs continue to grow, but they are changing from traditional blue-collar industries to skilled-services industries. A gain of 4 million good jobs in skilled-services industries, such as financial services and health services, has more than offset the 2.8 million good jobs lost in manufacturing.

“If the business community, policymakers, and education and training providers are working towards placing workers in good jobs, we first need to know where they are,” said Chauncy Lennon, head of workforce initiatives for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re excited to partner with the Georgetown Center to explore this research because better data is critical to building a better workforce.”

Employment and Education

Although the economy has shifted, workers without a B.A. still comprise 64 percent of all workers. Many believe good jobs for workers without a B.A. no longer exist in this new environment.

“Even though there have been big losses, manufacturing still provides the largest number of good jobs,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and lead author of the report based on the study, “Good Jobs that Pay without a B.A.”

While the good jobs of the manufacturing era only required a high school diploma or less, new good jobs tend to require at least some postsecondary education and training. The growth of good jobs has been greatest for workers with an associate degree.

Americans with only high school diplomas still have the largest share of good jobs (11.6 million), but that share continues to decline. Workers with some college have 9.3 million good jobs, those with associate degrees have 7.6 million good jobs, and high school dropouts only have 1.7 million.

Research Also Shows

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Whites still have the largest share of good jobs, but that share has declined.
  • Latinos have a smaller share, but have seen the most growth.
  • Blacks have the smallest share and have seen only slight growth.
  • Men dominate good jobs that pay without a B.A., consistently grabbing 70 percent of these well-paying jobs.
  • Women have not been able to attain good jobs in any greater numbers, even with the shift in employment toward health care and other skilled-services industries.
  • The largest economies—California, Texas, Florida, and New York—have the largest number of good jobs for workers without a B.A., while Wyoming, New Jersey, and Maryland proportionately provide the largest share of these jobs.
  • Good jobs are spread across many industries. These industries include manufacturing; financial and consulting/business services; transportation and utilities; wholesale and retail trade; construction; leisure and hospitality, and personal services; healthcare services; government services; education services; and natural resources.

About the Research Project

The Georgetown Center and JPMorgan Chase created this research project to investigate the impact overarching structural economic change has had and is having on workers who do not get a B.A.

The centerpiece of the collaboration will include an interactive online database that documents the concentration of these good jobs, nationally, at the state level, by industry and occupation, and by wage. GoodJobsData.org, launching in the fall, will examine other characteristics that show the quality of these good jobs and the demographics of those who hold them.