NY, Washington seen as worst areas for jobseekers

NEW YORK • With unemployment near a half-century low, employers are struggling to find workers and lowering educational requirements as a result. That means jobseekers without a bachelor’s degree have better options than in prior years, but may have to migrate to a more receptive area within a polarised US economy.

Opportunities for workers with little to no post-high school education vary across the country, with the Midwest having some of the best options and New York City (NYC) among the worst.

St Louis, Missouri, and Lansing, Michigan, are a few of the metro areas with the highest share of jobs that pay wages above the national average and don’t require a college degree, according to a new study by researchers from the Federal Reserve Banks of Cleveland and Philadelphia.

The study ranked 121 US metro areas by share of “opportunity employment”, which is defined as employment accessible to workers without a bachelor’s degree and typically paying above the national median wage, adjusted for regional inflation.

Moreover, 70% of the top 20-ranked US metros can be found in the Midwest, suggesting “the prevalence of smaller, lower cost cities as it relates to the level of opportunity”, said co-author Kyle Fee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

“That’s something not a lot of folks think about when they think about the Midwest, but it shows up in our data.” The top 10 metro areas generally have a lower cost of living.

Coastal metro areas rank poorly. Washington, DC, NYC and Los Angeles occupied the bottom three spots with opportunity employment rates of 14.6%, 15.3% and 15.4% respectively.

The higher paying sub-baccalaureate occupations that don’t require college include registered nurses, heavy truck drivers, bookkeepers, repair workers, carpenters, electricians and patrol officers. These jobs vary by metro area.

In Akron, Ohio, registered nurse is the top opportunity occupation with 5,400 jobs paying an annual median wage of US$69,200 (RM286,488). The metro’s second-best job group is secretaries and administrative assistants, providing 4,700 jobs and an annual median wage of US$34,300.

In Detroit, assemblers and fabricators make up the largest opportunity occupation with 48,100 jobs. And in El Paso, Texas, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are at the top with 5,200 jobs. — Bloomberg