Good Jobs that Pay without a BA

Posted by Georgetown University on January 12, 2018

About The Good Jobs Project
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has launched the Good Jobs Project website, which shows the concentration of good jobs for non-BA workers both nationally and by state. The interactive website details the level of economic opportunity for workers without BAs across the country. The project also focuses on the share of good jobs by industry and occupation. Visit to explore.

The reported death of the middle economy is greatly exaggerated. There are 30 million good jobs in the United States today that pay without a BA (bachelor’s degree). These good jobs have median earnings of $55,000 annually (Figure 1). Traditionally, many people with good jobs that pay without a BA have worked in manufacturing. Those jobs are declining while the number of good jobs in skilled-services industries, such as health services and financial services, is increasing.

These trends vary across states. Twenty-three states gained good blue-collar jobs from 1991 to 2015. For instance, Utah had a 105 percent increase in good blue-collar jobs, and Nevada had a 50 percent increase. However, many Northeast and Midwest states saw steep declines: Rhode Island lost 39 percent of its good blue-collar jobs for workers without BAs during this period. New York saw a 31 percent decline in these jobs, and Pennsylvania saw a 27 percent decline. Good jobs in skilled-services industries increased in most states, growing by almost 200 percent in Arizona and 124 percent in Texas.

Education matters. More and more, good jobs are going to workers with bachelor’s degrees, who now hold 55 percent of all good jobs. For workers without BAs, associate’s degrees have become increasingly important for finding a good job. More associate’s degree holders are getting good jobs, while the number of these jobs held by workers with a high school diploma or less is in decline. This is especially true in Midwest states like Minnesota and Iowa

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