Long-Term Talent Supply May Threaten Demand for Most Jobs in Michigan


Michigan’s top economic leaders today issued a series of findings that show the state is generally prepared to meet the demand for high-paying jobs with educated and skilled workers over the next three years, however, the ability to meet demand over the long-term is less certain.

“High-paying jobs — the ones that require more education and training — are going to continue growing in Michigan in the near term while low-skill, low-wage jobs are expected to contract,” says Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Detroit-based Business Leaders for Michigan. “However, most of the jobs in Michigan are still low-skill and low-wage.”

Rothwell says annual openings for low-skill occupations currently outpace openings for high-skill jobs.

“This is going to change soon, however, as jobs requiring only a high school diploma are expected to drop by more than 19,000,” Rothwell says. “Conversely, jobs requiring an Associate’s degree or higher are expected to grow by 21,000 — the beginning of a trend that is going to grow exponentially in the years ahead.”

He says this ground shift in workforce needs will be accelerated by demographic trends, including an aging workforce, a shrinking talent pipeline, and low educational attainment.

“Michigan residents are 10th oldest in the nation,” Rothwell says. “Coupled with a declining population of K–12 students, a low percentage of 25–34 year olds, and continuing low educational attainment, we face a significant talent gap over the long term.”

Other key findings in the recent report include:

  • In 2015, there were more than 4.5 million jobs in the state spread over 724 different occupations.
  • Two-thirds of these jobs required a high school education or less and paid an average hourly wage of $17.68 – 19 percent below the statewide average.
  • The average hourly wage for jobs requiring an Associate’s degree or higher paid an average hourly wage of $34.27, which was 58 percent more than the state average and nearly double the wage for jobs requiring a high school diploma or less.
  • For high school graduates, the key to higher earnings is more training — the more you learn, the more you earn. Only 19 percent of openings that require no, short, moderate, or long-term training pay above the statewide average hourly wage. In contrast, 66 percent of openings that call for an apprenticeship exceed the state average.

Supply shortages over the next few years span all levels of education and training and both STEM and non-STEM disciplines.

Rothwell says many of his organization’s initiatives are aimed at addressing this projected shortfall.

“We are eager to continue partnering with state and local leaders to help implement the Building a New Michigan Plan,” Rothwell says. “The future success of each and every Michigan worker is dependent upon our efforts to compete, invest and grow in ways that make sense.”

To view the full report, click here.

Business Leaders for Michigan is composed exclusively of the chairpersons, CEOs or most senior executives of state’s largest companies and universities.