The Midwest Challenge: Matching Jobs with Education in the Post-Recession EconomyReport as inadecuate

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Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

No one has had it worse than the Midwest. Job losses in the "great recession" of 2007 spared no region, but the bulk of industries hardest hit were in the Midwestern states. This is the second of a series of reports detailing the job and educational demand prospects for workers, by major census regions. When compared to all other regions, the loss of jobs in the Midwest has been substantial and painful, mostly due to its industrial composition. Because of the continuing decline in manufacturing and agriculture, the Midwest has lost many of its middle-wage, middle-skill level jobs. This "hollowing out" of the middle is, however, more precisely described as a general decline in the demand for less-skilled occupations--and not the decimation of the middle as it is widely interpreted. The authors find that many of these lost jobs that required only a high school education or less and relatively low skills will not come back at all, lost to automation or overseas competitors. The newly created jobs are in occupations such as healthcare, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The writing is on the wall: the fastest-growing occupations and industries are those associated with the highest proportions of postsecondary education. The overall demand for postsecondary education and training will continue to grow. This is true not only of high-tech industries, but even in wholesale and retail trade or personal services, where more than 50 percent of the workforce requires some postsecondary education beyond high school. Not all postsecondary education and training, however, will result in good jobs that pay living wages. The states' ability to match postsecondary programs with job opportunities remains underdeveloped. This deficiency contributes to the continuing mismatch between the postsecondary education production system, the actual training that people need to get, and the jobs that are available. Everyone should use information systems to better align education and training with workforce outcomes. Appended are: (1) Midwest Region: Economic Indicators; (2) Midwest States: Unemployment Rates; (3) Real GDP by state (2009 U.S. dollars, in millions); (4) Education Distribution by Industry, 2018; (5) Education Distribution by Occupation, 2018; (6) Largest Employers (by employment numbers) by State; (7) Fastest-Growing Companies by State (Selected Companies); and (8) Detailed Analysis of BLS/Census Discrepancy in Education Requirements of Jobs (Midwest States). A bibliography is included. (Contains 13 tables, 3 figures and 6 footnotes.)

Descriptors: Postsecondary Education, Skilled Occupations, Industry, Education Work Relationship, Educational Demand, Employment Opportunities, Labor Force, Labor Market, Alignment (Education), Unemployment, Economic Climate, Economic Factors, Social Indicators, Influence of Technology, Competition, Outcomes of Education, Labor Force Development

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. 3300 Whitehaven Street NW Suite 5000 Box 571444, Washington, DC 20057. Tel: 202-687-4922; Fax: 202-687-3110; e-mail: cewgeorgetown[at]; Web site:

Author: Carnevale, Anthony P.; Smith, Nicole


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