More education but not necessarily more pay for NC’s workers

July 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

The Telltale Chart posted a new chart yesterday that shows the educational attainment of low-wage workers (defined as those earning less than $10/hour)in 1980 and 2010. The interactive chart allows you to select by state, year, and by educational attainment level.

The chart reveals that while the share of low-wage workers has decreased overall, the educational attainment of these workers has increased. In North Carolina, 43 percent of low-wage workers had less than a high school education and only 15 percent had some college. In 2010, only 20 percent had less than high school, while 33 percent had some college. The overall share of low-wage workers in the state dropped during this time from 35 percent in 1980 to 23 percent in 2010.

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For those workers who are low-wage today, their wages have  not kept up with increases in educational attainment. As for the traditional thinking that getting more education results in more pay, this chart shows that for some workers this is not necessarily true. The chart could also point to the fact that more jobs need more than just  a high school diploma today. In 1980 having a high school diploma could enable a worker to get a good paying job. In 2010, that same worker more likely needs a few years of post-secondary training, an associates degree, or some  kind of trade or vocational certification. In any case, these findings could help us think about economic development and how we invest in our state’s future.


Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Jobs & Employment. Tags: , .

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