About one-third of manufacturing workers holds a bachelor's degree in 2016, up from only 8% in 1970, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. Meanwhile, the share of workers with a high school degree or less shrunk from 79% to 43% over the same time period.
Manufacturing employs about 12.6 million workers, down from a high of nearly 20 million in 1979. Automation has displaced millions of workers and taken over many routine tasks, causing more manufacturing positions to require or degree or credential.
The center projects that the sector will shed 2% of its workers with a high school diploma or less by 2027. There will be 200,000 fewer "good jobs" — or those that make at least $35,000 — for those with bachelor's degrees, but 300,000 more good jobs for workers with middle skills.