Courtesy of Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IL
Springfield, Ill— While a bachelor’s degree isn’t the only path to a professional success, a report out today says non-degree holding workers in Illinois could use some more well-paid, blue collar jobs.
Researchers at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce looked at the number of good jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree in each state between 1991 and 2015.
And they found nearly half of states were able to increase their numbers, but Illinois wasn’t one of them.
Neil Ridley, state initiative director at the Center, said good jobs in blue collar industries in Illinois declined by 23 percent – losing about 244,000 jobs in manufacturing alone.
“Really, the losses of jobs in the blue collar industries, especially in manufacturing, really drove the decline,” Ridley said.
“The losses really outweighed any gains that took place in the skilled-services industries.”
The report said skilled-services jobs, such as in healthcare, have risen by 8 percent in Illinois, but that’s well below the national average.
The number of good jobs for workers with associate’s degrees has increased by 11 percentage points. But for those with only high school diplomas, there are fewer well-paid jobs today than in 1991.
Jobs consultant Meegan Dugan Bassett said there are some bright points for Illinois in the report.
She noted the median income for people who have no bachelor’s degree is higher than the national average, but she believes the state could really thrive if there were more opportunities.
“It would be really interesting to see if Illinois could potentially encourage more growth in businesses – or attract some business, too – that are providing these good jobs for people who maybe don’t have money or the time to go back for a four-year degree,” Dugan Bassett said.
Nearly 1-in-5 good jobs for workers without a B.A. in Illinois are in manufacturing, which is above the national average of 16 percent.
Another 23 percent are concentrated in construction, transportation and utilities industries.