Report Says Illinois Is Losing Well-Paid, Blue-Collar Jobs

Nov 13, 2017

While a bachelor's degree isn't the only path to a good job, a new report says Illinois could use some more well-paid, blue-collar jobs.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce looked at how many good jobs each state had between 1991 and 2015 that don't require a B-A - and found nearly half of states were able to increase their numbers. But, Illinois isn't one of them.

Neil Ridley with the Center explains good jobs in blue-collar industries in Illinois declined by 23 percent, losing about 244-thousand jobs for non-B-A workers in manufacturing alone.
"Really, the losses of jobs in the blue-collar industries, especially in manufacturing, really drove the decline. The losses really outweighed any gains that took place in the skilled-services industries."

Jobs consultant Meegan Dugan Bassett says there are some bright points for Illinois in the report. She says the median income for people who have no bachelor's degree is higher than the national average, but she believes the state could really thrive if there were more opportunities.
"It would be really interesting to see if Illinois could potentially encourage more growth in businesses, or attract some business, too, that are providing these good jobs for people who maybe don't have money or the time to go back for a four-year degree."
Nearly one in five good jobs for non-B-A workers in Illinois are in manufacturing, which is above the national average of 16 percent. Another 23-percent are concentrated in construction, transportation and utilities industries.

The report says skilled-services jobs, such as in healthcare, have risen eight percent in Illinois, but that's well below the national average.

Good jobs for people with associate's degrees have increased by 11 percentage points, but for those with only high school diplomas, there are fewer well-paid jobs today than in 1991.