Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mapping State Workforce Trends

By Ranada Robinson, Research Manager

I love maps because they are an easy way to illustrate data points. Lately, I’ve been very interested in various data indicators we use at Market Street to evaluate workforce strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few state data maps using 2013 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data that reveal some interesting findings. 

Because workforce sustainability is an emerging issue in the United States because of the impending retirements of Baby Boomers, in many communities, we take a look at the ratio of young professionals (25-44) to experienced professionals and those nearing retirement (45-64) to determine if there are currently enough young professionals to eventually replace those who retire. In some instances, we also take a look at these dynamics by occupation and/or business sector. In the following map, the states most at risk of not having a sustainable workforce are shown in yellow: Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. In these states, there are roughly only three young professionals for every four experienced professionals. The three states with the most sustainable workforces (highest levels of workers in the young professionals age range compared to those in experienced professionals) are Washington, D.C., Utah, and Texas. In D.C., the ratio is 1.62, meaning that there are nearly ten young professionals for every six experienced professional. 

Workforce Age Ratio, 2013 

In terms of migration, the population of communities is dependent on two factors: natural change (birth minus deaths) and net migration (in-migration minus out-migration). The demographics of residents moving in and out of states can significantly affect the workforce, particularly when net migration outpaces natural change. The next two maps illustrate the levels of educational attainment of residents moving into respective states. States (and communities) that can attract talent with higher educational attainment while also retaining educated talent are likely to be more competitive for knowledge-driven, higher-wage business sectors. The states with the largest percentages of in-migrants with bachelor’s degrees or higher are: Washington, D.C. (79.5 percent), Massachusetts (59.7 percent), New Jersey (55.5 percent), and New York (54 percent). The states with the lowest percentages of in-migrants with four-year college degrees are Mississippi (23.1 percent), West Virginia (23.2 percent), Arkansas (28.2 percent), and Idaho (28.4 percent). 

Percentage of In-Migrants with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, 2013 

The states that attract high levels of in-migrants without a high school diploma are primarily in the South. The states with the largest percentages of in-migrants who likely need additional training are Mississippi (16.5 percent), Oklahoma (15.3 percent), New Mexico, Arkansas, Delaware, and Georgia (all 14.7 percent). The states with the lowest percentages are Vermont (2.8 percent), Hawaii (3.5 percent), Montana (3.6 percent), and Washington, D.C. (3.8 percent). 

Percentage of In-Migrants with No High School Diploma, 2013 

I also took a look at adult educational attainment for all residents by gender. Interestingly, the bachelor’s degree-plus maps for women and men look very similar with the exception of just Vermont. 

Percentage of Women aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher 

Percentage of Men aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher 

There are actually 32 states where there are a larger percentage of adult women with a bachelor’s degree or higher than their male counterparts. In the following map, states where women have higher percentages of higher educational attainment are shaded yellow, and states where men have higher percentages of higher educational attainment are shaded blue. In Vermont, women lead in the percentage of attainment of bachelor’s-plus by 8.3 percentage points, and in Alaska, by 6.5 percentage points. In Utah, men lead by 4.6 percentage points, and in D.C., 2.8 percentage points. 

Percentage Point Difference of Bachelor’s Degree or Higher Attainment between Women and Men 

On the other end of the spectrum, the story is very different. In all states except Hawaii, women have lower percentages of not having a high school diploma than men. This is an important observation in understanding workforce and occupational dynamics and educational trends. Communities can match this set of indicators to occupational data that reveals male-heavy (or woman-heavy) occupations that may require certifications or experience rather than educational attainment. It can also be paired with school system dropout data to help steer students into trades that may help them overcome the odds that come with not having a high school diploma. 

Percentage of Women aged 25+ with no high school diploma, 2013 

Percentage of Men aged 25+ with no high school diploma, 2013 

As you can see, there are many publicly available data indicators that can be helpful in understanding workforce dynamics. Additional indicators include wage data, educational attainment by race and ethnicity data, and graduation rates by gender or race and ethnicity. Because talent is so important in today’s economic development environment, analyzing a community’s workforce strengths and weaknesses can be the key to gaining competitive advantage.