“The Southern states were diverse in their physical and economic size, ethnic composition and industrial makeup. Therefore, although it was difficult to classify the South as one cohesive region by any definition, this report presented information on the region’s employment and education prospects with the aim of connecting employment needs to resulting education demand” (p. 3).
“Breaking out of a low-skill equilibrium was no small feat. States could escape the quandary by producing more postsecondary talent and by modernizing existing industries and attracting new ones. But unless these strategies were carefully coordinated, they were bound to result in a brain drain (the loss of postsecondary talent, training and skill) or a shift to the hiring of out-of-state talent (the loss of opportunity for state residents)” (p. 4).
“The projections were based on detailed analysis of the industrial and occupational profile of each state, juxtaposed with national forecasts of macroeconomic variables such as GDP growth, inflation, unemployment, and labor force participation” (p.8). (Abstractor: Author)
Major Findings & Recommendations
“The educational profile of the South is both a cause and a consequence of the region’s industrial and occupational makeup. Further, the industrial makeup of many of the southern states is a major reason why the region has traditionally lagged others in educational attainment, especially in postsecondary attainment. By 2020, 59 percent of the jobs in the South will require postsecondary education and training, compared to 66 percent nationally. This means that without additional investment, the relatively low levels of education in the Southern workforce can only discourage the development of higher-wage, high-skilled employment. “With notable exceptions, the employment profiles of the Southern states are dominated by low-wage, low-skill industries and occupations. There is also a relative preponderance of slow- growing or declining industries such as those involving natural resources and old-line manufacturing, as well as highly cyclical industries like construction, housing, government and retail trade. For the past three decades employment levels in natural resources and in manufacturing have steadily declined.Demand for postsecondary talent is rising at a slower rate in the South than elsewhere, resulting in much less overall wealth and lower derived public revenue. We find that if the Southern states doubled their respective shares of workers with a bachelor’s degree, they could increase tax revenue between 75 and 150 percent. Increasing demand for postsecondary talent in the workforce increases wealth and tax revenues disproportionately because of the higher productivity and earnings of a postsecondary-educated workforce. Employment in many southern states is more concentrated than the national norm in manufacturing, utilities and transportation. Here, long-term job growth continues to be compromised by productivity growth that increases output, but with relatively fewer workers” (p.8). (Abstractor: Author)