Should they be? Should education policy track job market shifts?
I was disappointed to read that Georgia is losing a startling share of “premium” jobs, according to a new brief by the Fiscal Research Center of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.
Can education reverse the loss of the state’s highest paying jobs? Can we continue to under invest in education given the job trends?
As a state, Georgia came late to the realization that it had to educate its citizens to higher standards. It was content to send kids without a high school diplomas off to mills and farms, but those jobs have dramatically shrunk, and, in some cases, disappeared.
It is interesting to note where the jobs are in Georgia.
Fulton County holds the largest share of jobs. While Fulton represented 17.71 percent of state jobs in 2000, it fell to 16.91 percent in 2009. Cobb, Gwinnett, and DeKalb each represent about 7 percent of total state employment, or approximately 300,000 jobs. But DeKalb is slipping.
The report found that, “DeKalb County experienced job loss over the last decade of about 11 percent, whereas the number of jobs in Cobb County has stayed fairly consistent since 2000 with job loss of less than 1 percent. Gwinnett County experienced job creation in the early part of the last decade, but gave up some of those gains in the later part of the decade.”
The report looks at three levels of jobs; the premium job pays over $50,000 per year; the mid-range job pays between $35,000 and $50,000 per year; the low-paying job pays below $35,000.
Seven counties in Georgia experienced larger than 50 percent decline in premium jobs over the last decade. They are Marion, Harris, Dooly, Clarke, Ben Hill, Twiggs and Atkinson.
Eleven counties in Georgia had at least 100 percent growth in premium jobs over the last decade. They are Chattahoochee, Quitman, Long, Webster, Monroe, Screven, Barrow, Bryan, Calhoun, Dawson, and Taliaferro.
The brief concludes:
“The state of Georgia experienced a decline in both premium (-13.59 percent) and low-paying (-2.74 percent) jobs over the last decade. The mid-range jobs saw an increase of 3.55 percent over the 2000-2009 time period. The loss of premium jobs predates the current recession and in fact, the state shed a larger percentage of premium jobs from the 2000-2005 period than after (although the downward trend continued). The recession impacted midrange and low-paying jobs by reversing job growth seen earlier in the decade. The low-paying jobs experienced the largest decline in jobs during the 2005-2009 time period.”
The state of Georgia appears to have lost a significant share of its premium jobs, while replacing some of these jobs with mid-range jobs. The counties within the Atlanta metropolitan statistical area are experiencing a similar situation but are replacing more of the lost premium jobs with mid-range jobs. In general, the metropolitan area is increasing its share of jobs in the state, but this is largely because these counties are just not declining as fast in job losses. Certain areas outside the metro area are doing quite well with growth in premium jobs driven by the professional, scientific, and technical services and manufacturing sectors, while those who have lost the largest percentage of jobs outside the metro area are largely seeing declines not driven by a few sectors but losses in a number of various sectors.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog