Chart of the Week: Manufacturing jobs require more skills!

Dec 17, 2019
Chart of the Week, Career, Economics, Employment

From WSJ article: 

Specialized job requirements have narrowed the path to the middle class that factory work once afforded. The new, more advanced manufacturing jobs pay more but don’t help workers who stopped schooling early. More than 40% of manufacturing workers have a college degree, up from 22% in 1991.

“The workers that remain do much more cognitively demanding jobs,” said David Autor, an economics professor at MIT.

Looking ahead, investments in automation will continue to expand factory production with relatively fewer employees. Jobs that remain are expected to be increasingly filled by workers from colleges and technical schools, leaving high-school graduates and dropouts with fewer opportunities. Manufacturing workers laid-off in years past also will see fewer suitable openings.


  • What manufacturing jobs exist in your community, your city, your state?
  • Manufacturing jobs used to provide a path to the middle class for those with high school degrees. What has changed in the past few decades? 
  • Do you think the trend towards automation will increase, decrease or stay the same? What impact will that have on manufacturing jobs?
  • Your friend says "I'm counting on getting a job at the local car assembly plant after I graduate from high school." What would you tell them has changed about manufacturing jobs? 


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About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.