Education equals earnings, WorkForce Central report says

The Pierce County job training and placement service WorkForce Central on Monday released its “Force of the Future” snapshot of the local employment situation, focusing on “a widening gap between the jobs available and the skill-sets of the workers seeking jobs.”

“In an ideal world, the skill, expertise and quantity of the workforce closely aligns with the needs of industry,” said WorkForce CEO Linda Nguyen.

“Understanding the potential misalignments is crucial to shaping our region’s workforce and economic development policies, strategies and investments.”

Among the data in the report:

•  Since 2000, workers over 55 have increased from 11 percent to 19 percent of the total labor force.

•  Median earnings increased 40 percent from 2000 to 2007, and have decreased 1 percent since then.

•  A living wage in Pierce County for one adult and two children is estimated at about $50,000, while the annual median earnings for all workers was about $36,000.

•  24 percent of Pierce County adults have attained at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30 percent in Thurston County and 46 percent in King County.

•  By ethnicity, 25 percent of white Pierce County residents have earned at least a bachelor’s degree; 17 percent of African Americans; 18 percent of Native Americans; 13 percent of Hispanic-Latinos; and 29 percent of Asians.

•  76 percent of Pierce County students graduated on time from high school in 2012; in 2000, 89 percent graduated on time.

•  WorkForce estimates that within the state, 45,000 STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs will go unfilled by 2017.

•  By 2018, two-thirds of jobs nationally will require workers with at least some post-secondary education. Today, count 53 percent.

•  “Youth employment is at its lowest level since the mid-1940s,” the report states. Close to one-fifth of all young adults in the county age 16-24 are unemployed. “At this rate, we risk a generation with not enough or the right kind of education and too little early work experience to gain the essential skills that come from holding a job.”

•  In 2012, Pierce County employers noted the following missing skills among potential employees: work habits, 63 percent; problem solving, 62 percent; communications, 53 percent; customer service, 45 percent; computer literacy, 42 percent.

•  For Pierce County residents 25 and older, those with less than a high school education can expect to earn $21,780 annually; for high school graduates, $31,566; with some college, $38,572; with a bachelor’s degree, $50,800; with a high degree; $65,497.

For a look at the full report, with recommended solutions, visit and go to “WorkForce Happenings.”