A Closer Look

Employment trends by education requirement in US – A shift toward occupations with higher entry education

This article uses Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data to examine recent employment trends by typical entry-level education requirement (hereafter in this article referred to as “entry education”).

As noted earlier, the United States experienced an 18-month economic contraction beginning in December 2007, before entering a period of recovery beginning in June 2009. This section of the article focuses on national employment trends by entry education from May 2007 to May 2016 and for two subperiods, the 3 years from May 2007 to May 2010 and the 6 years from May 2010 to May 2016. These subperiods were chosen to approximate the periods of recession and recovery while keeping the comparison points at least 3 years apart in order to avoid comparing OES estimates that share the same underlying survey data.

From May 2007 to May 2010, U.S. employment decreased by almost 7.3 million jobs. (See figure 2.) Over 4.8 million jobs were lost in occupations that typically require a high school diploma or the equivalent for entry.4 This loss represents an employment decrease of 9.4 percent for these occupations, compared with a 5.4-percent employment decrease for all occupations combined. Employment fell by over 2.5 million, or 6.8 percent, in occupations that typically require no formal educational credential for entry. Among occupations typically requiring postsecondary education for entry, only the two categories with the lowest entry education levels—postsecondary nondegree award and some college, no degree—lost jobs during this period.

As the economic recovery progressed, the United States gained 13.3 million jobs from May 2010 to May 2016. (See figure 2.) During this period, employment grew in all education categories except some college, no degree. Employment increased by over 3.5 million in occupations that typically require a high school diploma or the equivalent for entry. This increase represents 7.6-percent growth, compared with 10.5-percent growth for all occupations combined. Employment in occupations that typically require no formal educational credential for entry increased by 4.5 million, or 13.1 percent.

Except for occupations with an entry education level of some college, no degree, employment increased from May 2010 to May 2016 for all the postsecondary education categories. Much of the increase—over 3.7 million jobs—was in occupations that typically require a bachelor’s or master’s degree for entry. Percentage increases ranged from 10 percent for occupations typically requiring a postsecondary nondegree award for entry to 15 percent for occupations typically requiring an associate’s degree.

Over the full 9-year period from May 2007 to May 2016, the U.S. economy gained about 6 million jobs, an increase of 4.5 percent. (See figure 2.) Only two education categories lost jobs over this period. Almost 1.3 million jobs were lost in occupations that typically require a high school diploma or the equivalent for entry, a decrease of 2.5 percent. Among occupations that typically require postsecondary education for entry, the only category that lost jobs from May 2007 to May 2016 had one of the lower entry education levels: some college, no degree.

From May 2007 to May 2016, 2 million jobs were gained in occupations that typically require no formal educational credential for entry, a 5.4-percent increase. Employment also increased in all the postsecondary education categories except some college, no degree, including 4 million jobs gained in occupations that typically require a bachelor’s or master’s degree for entry. In percentage terms, employment gains ranged from 8.4 percent for occupations typically requiring a postsecondary nondegree award for entry to 15.6 percent for occupations typically requiring an associate’s degree.

The result of these employment changes was to shift the composition of U.S. employment toward occupations with higher entry education. From May 2007 to May 2016, the share of U.S. employment in occupations typically requiring a high school diploma or equivalent for entry fell by nearly 2.6 percentage points, from over 38.3 percent to slightly less than 35.8 percent. Over the same period, the share of employment in occupations typically requiring postsecondary education for entry rose by 2.3 percentage points, from 34.2 to 36.5 percent. Occupations that typically require a bachelor’s or master’s degree for entry represented 21.1 percent of employment in May 2007 but 23.0 percent of employment in May 2016.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Employment trends by typical entry-level education requirement : Monthly Labor Review: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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