A college degree pays off with higher salaries in Ohio

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Ohio workers with college degrees earned nearly double the salary of those with only a high school diploma in 2021, but wage disparities persist for women and blacks at all levels education, according to the new annual report on the state of labor in Ohio released today by Policy Questions Ohio.

The report also found that more education raised wages and tended to protect workers against job loss.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 13.3% of workers in Ohio without a high school diploma lost their jobs and 10.2% remained unemployed in 2021. For college graduates, 4.6% lost their jobs. lost their jobs and 2.6% were still unemployed in 2021, the report said.

“For anyone able to access higher education, it’s probably a good bet,” said Michael Shields, lead author of the report and researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, a Columbus-based liberal-leaning think tank. . “We need greater public investment and federal investment in public universities and community colleges.”

Ohio State has increasingly adopted post-secondary programs that provide job training and a degree such as a certificate, and some companies will pay for this training for their workers.

Sinclair Community College’s workforce development programs offer degrees or certifications for workers looking to upgrade their skills or change careers, said Ronald W. Ulrich, who chairs manufacturing technology departments. advanced and industrial engineering and systems college.

He said training in skilled trades such as precision and computer-controlled machining, welding and quality control is “a major advancement step for the existing worker or the new worker who doesn’t have these skills to move to a whole new level of compensation within their company.”

“I know my machining graduates come out with a certificate or diploma for jobs that pay $50,000 to $70,000 a year,” Ulrich said.

Education and remuneration closely linked

Wages for college graduates fell slightly in 2021 after a spike in 2020 that was likely due in part to better-paid workers’ greater ability to continue working during the first year of the pandemic, the report said.

In 2021, the median hourly wage for a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher was $32.08, according to the report, which used an analysis of US Census Bureau data by Economic Policy Institute, a Washington DC-based liberal-leaning think tank.

For people with a high school diploma and college education, but no degree, the median wage was $18.93 per hour. A person with just a high school diploma was paid $17.18 and non-graduates were paid $14.01 per hour, according to the report.

Policy Matters recommends that policy makers improve support for early childhood education through university education, vocational training programs and funding to make education affordable for all.

Workers in Ohio have seen their paychecks rise over the past two years as a tight labor market led to wage increases after years of stagnant wages.

But even though the pay gap between men and women in Ohio has narrowed over the past decade, in 2021 women earned just 81 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the report. .

And the pay gap between black and white workers has widened. In 2021, black workers earned 80 cents for every dollar earned by whites, up from 92 cents on the dollar earned by black workers in 1979, according to the report.

The median hourly wage for black workers was $16.92 in 2021. For white workers, it was $21.26, according to the report. This racial wage gap exists at all levels of education in Ohio.

Black workers with an advanced college degree received a median hourly wage of $30.32 in 2021, compared to $35.64 for white workers.

For high school graduates, the wage difference was $14.73 an hour for black workers and $18.01 for white workers.

The gender pay gap also persists for women at all levels of education in Ohio. Men with only a high school diploma were paid $19.56 an hour, more than the median hourly wage of $16.63 for women who had a degree and college education, the report said. .

Among university graduates, men earned $31.41 per hour versus $24.91 for women at the median.

The report says part of the pay difference may come from differences in the occupations women and men tend to hold and because women are more likely to take career breaks to care for children.

Childcare issues hit women hardest, with 60% of mothers who are unemployed or working part-time saying they would return to work or increase their hours if they could find affordable childcare and quality, according to the report.

A proposal by President Joe Biden to fund universal early education and help with child care costs passed the US House of Representatives last year but failed to pass the Senate. .

“The main cause of the gender pay gap is men working longer hours and staying in the workforce for their entire careers,” said Rea S. Hederman Jr., vice president of policy at the Buckeye Institute, a conservative-leaning institution based in Columbus. thinking group. “Women are more likely to take time off work to raise their children, and when workers are absent from the workforce, their future earnings are lower than those of someone who stays in the workforce.”

He said the gender pay gap is greater for occupations that have more demanding schedules and can narrow in jobs where employers allow remote work and more flexibility.

The Policy Matters report also recommends raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But Hederman argues it will hurt small businesses and “prevent some workers from finding legal work and dramatically reduce job opportunities for teenage and young workers.”

Shields said the decline of unions has hurt workers and the government should make it easier for workers to form unions to negotiate higher wages and better working conditions. The median hourly wage for unionized workers in Ohio was $24.75 in 2021, compared to $19.91 for nonunion workers, according to the report.

“As our recovery continues, we must demand a better Ohio economy than we had before. We can’t just get back to where we were in 2019, where wages had been flat for decades,” he said. Shields said “We need to rebuild Ohio’s economy as a place where everyone can prosper.”

Ohio’s jobs recovery is incomplete

Ohio still has fewer people employed than before the pandemic began in March 2020, even as the nation’s jobs have recovered. That leaves Ohioans at greater risk of suffering economically if federal efforts to control inflation slow job growth, the report said.

“Policymakers must manage this carefully to bring inflation back to normal levels while limiting damage to the labor market and therefore to most Ohioans,” the report said. “The inflation strategy will be a major concern for workers in Ohio, as those who struggle the most to afford higher prices also face the greatest risk of job loss if the policy response is mismanaged. .”

In July, employment in the United States reached pre-pandemic levels for the first time and on Friday the BLS reported that 315,000 new jobs had been created in August, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. United.

Ohio had restored 85.3% of lost jobs but remained short of 129,800 jobs in July, Shields said. And Ohio still has fewer people employed than in 2000, when the number of jobs in the state reached nearly 5.63 million. In July, there were 5.48 million people employed in Ohio, according to preliminary BLS data.

“Ohio suffers larger proportional losses than the country in an economic downturn, and longer recovery times that never get us back on the growth path we would have been on with the recession, or even in some cases at our previous level,” the report said.

Manufacturing once dominated Ohio’s job mix but now ranks fifth after the state has lost 700,000 manufacturing jobs since the 1970s, halving the number of those jobs, Shields said.

“This trend has significant impacts on job quality, largely because union-heavy jobs in manufacturing, and to a lesser extent government, have been largely replaced by jobs in less well-off sectors. remunerated,” the report said.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector is the state’s largest employer, at 19%, and was the only major sector to add jobs during the pandemic.

Education and health services rank second, followed by government services and professional and business services.

Another concern for Ohio is demographics.

“One factor we need to recognize is that Ohio’s workforce is aging relative to the nation’s,” Shields said.

The report says the state must attract and retain youth and families by committing “to affordable, high-quality child care, equitable and well-resourced schools, and commitments to health.” of all residents.

Retaining and attracting a talented workforce is identified as the Dayton Area’s top priority in the Dayton Area’s new comprehensive economic development strategy, as job growth outpaces population growth, which is expected to continue in the future,” said Julie Sullivan, executive vice president of regional development. at the Dayton Development Coalition.

“As such, a multi-pronged approach is required: our existing workforce must be engaged and developed to meet needs, we must nurture an engaged pipeline to prepare for the jobs of the future and attract new people in the region,” Sullivan said. “Many partners are engaged in this work from different angles, and we need all of them to be successful.”


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