Plumbers, truck drivers and other workers who don’t have bachelor’s degrees can make a decent living in metro Atlanta, but there are fewer opportunities for them than in most major cities.
Out of 121 cities, Atlanta ranks 91st in its share of well-paying jobs that don’t require four-year degrees, says a Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland study. About 21% of jobs in Atlanta hit the benchmark of paying above the national median wage of $37,500 with no college needed. By comparison, the best metro area is Toledo, Ohio, where 34% of all its jobs don’t require bachelor’s degrees. The worst is Washington, D.C., with a share of 14.6%. The study took the cost of living into account to make a fair comparison.
Other cities within a day’s drive of Atlanta that fared better include St. Louis, which ranked No. 5; Lexington, Ky., at No. 8.; Chattanooga, Tenn., at No. 32; Augusta, at No. 59; and Charlotte, N.C., at No. 60.
Some of the fastest growing “opportunity occupations,” as the report calls them, include a number in health care and skilled trades, such as licensed practical nurses and carpenters. The number of those jobs are projected to grow above average rates through 2026.
They are particularly important because many of those jobs are not considered to be at significant risk of automation, while the reverse is true for some traditional non-college occupations, including office work, administrative support and manufacturing.
The authors of the study created estimates using data from the 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics collected by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and online job listings and requirements collected by private firm, Burning Glass Technologies.
The most recent reports show pay is rising in Atlanta and unemployment is dropping. According to a research report by Glassdoor, about 120,500 job openings were listed last month. That is a 7.9% leap from the same time a year earlier. The BLS also noted that average pay in metro Atlanta grew 3.1% over the last year.
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