BOSTON — MassINC’s latest report, Sizing Up Massachusetts’ Looming Skilled-Worker Shortage, projects the state’s working-age, college-educated labor force will fall by approximately 10% from current levels, creating a larger decrease than expected.
“There are simply no more college-educated workers to come by,” said Ben Forman, MassINC’s research director. “Each year we’ll have fewer than the previous, unless Massachusetts does a far better job helping students through higher education and building housing that they can afford.”
According to Forman, labor force participation rates for college-educated residents are already near historic highs and unemployment for this group hovers around 2%.
The study analyzed college-completion figures from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and population and migration data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings suggest that lower college completion rates among people of color, retiring baby boomers, more outmigration and lower immigration rates will simultaneously place downward pressure on the state’s skilled labor force.
“Demographers have long warned that the retirement of baby boomers would present a challenge for Massachusetts,” said Forman. “But they didn’t anticipate the degree to which inequality and high housing costs would compound the problem.”
State legislators are trying to increase investment in Early College high schools in this year’s budget. Last week, DESE presented an analysis demonstrating that these programs are dramatically increasing college enrollment and completion rates for low-income students and students of color.