In the coming years, the economy will add millions of jobs for Americans with only a high school diploma. But the pay will be pretty abysmal. Get ready for the McJobs.
These are lean times for Americans who lack a college education. With an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent, someone with only a high school diploma is twice as likely to be without a job as someone who has a bachelor's degree. Meanwhile, more and more high school grads have simply ceased looking for work, dropping their labor force participation rate to an astoundingly low 59.6 percent. The jobs that are opening for them them tend to be in very low-skill, very low-pay fields.
This week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its job growth predictions through 2020, when it expects to United States to return to full employment. They contain a bit of hope for America's least educated workers -- but not much. In the coming years, the government expects that 63% of all new jobs will require a high school degree or less. That's the good news. The bad news: the pay.
According to the BLS, there will be 20.4 million more jobs in 2020 than there were in 2010. About 12.8 million of those jobs will require a high school degree or less. Many of those will be clustered in services. The country will need more healthcare aides to look after a rapidly aging population. There will be more work in food preparation, retail, and office administration. The graph below depicts the occupations requiring a high school degree or less that are expected to add the most jobs (from left to right).
*Required disclaimer: Economies are fickle beasts and forecasting job growth eight years down the line is, well, rather tricky. But these numbers still give us a reasonable idea of what to expect if we were to extrapolate from current trends.