Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the Washington Workforce Training Board.
Compiled by the Washington Student Achievement Council.
Washington’s economy is the fastest growing in the nation, with an unemployment rate under five percent. But many Washingtonians still don’t earn a living wage. Employment support, training, and education help people secure higher-paying jobs, and higher wages allow individuals and families to better support themselves and their communities, as well as help reduce poverty, increase the purchasing power of workers, reduce housing instability, and reduce expenses for government programs.
As businesses, industries, and workplaces become increasingly complex, employers need workers with the skills and education that allow them to adapt and excel in evolving environments. More than three-quarters of projected job openings will require education beyond high school, with two-thirds requiring mid-level education or higher.
Education – In 2013, the median weekly earnings of U.S. workers with a high school diploma was $179 more than those without a high school diploma. The median weekly earnings of workers with a Bachelor’s degree was $457 more than those with a high school diploma. Workers with a professional degree had the highest median weekly earnings.
Training, education and apprenticeships in high-wage fields – The state’s community and technical colleges have worked to increase the number of STEM degrees awarded. Since 2012, STEM degrees awarded has grown by 55 percent. Gov. Inslee launched Career Connect Washington to increase apprenticeships and other career-connected learning opportunities to give students real-world experience with specific employers, career tracks or industries. Data from existing apprenticeship programs show that nine months after leaving college, 94 percent of students who finished apprenticeship programs in 2014-15 were employed, with a median wage of $34 per hour.
Employment – Securing employment is an important step, and work experience is positively linked to wages. In 2017, 69 percent of WorkSource WA participants obtained jobs, up from 53 percent in 2012. The national average is 51 percent.
Supply of jobs – Job growth helps keep unemployment low. The state added more than 119,000 jobs from October 2017 to October 2018.