Montana Labor Market Blog

Research & Analysis Bureau - Montana Department of Labor & Industry

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Good Jobs Without a 4-Year Degree

You may have heard the older generations lament the disappearance of blue-collar jobs in America. There was a time, they'll tell you, when a high school diploma was enough to land a well-paying job that could support a family. These days, you have to go to college if you don't want to live in poverty.

There is some truth to this narrative. Jobs requiring only a high school diploma are hard to come by, and generally pay near minimum wage. However, the traditional 4-year college degree is far from the only path to gaining a well-paying job.

In fact, the Good Jobs Project estimates there are 30,000 "Good Jobs" in the U.S. that don't require a Bachelor's degree.The Good Jobs Project was started by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and JPMorgan Chase to investigate the impact that structural economic change has on workers without a bachelor’s degree. Their research shows that while good blue-collar jobs have declined in the U.S. since 1991, good jobs for those without a BA have increased in skilled-services industries, such as healthcare and financial services. 

What is a Good Job?

As the Good Jobs Project defines it, a "Good Job" is one that pays a minimum of $35,000 per year ($17 per hour for a full-time job) for those under age 45, and $45,000 per year ($22 per hour) for those 45 and older. In their report, "Good Jobs that Pay without a BA: A State-by-state Analysis," the Good Jobs Project provides a 2-page infographic for every state, detailing facts about good jobs for non-BA holders. The following graphics come from that report, but have been paired to show how Montana compares to the nation as a whole.


Montana has a larger percentage of non-BA holders who have good jobs than the nation. More than half of Montanans with good jobs don't hold a Bachelor's degree.

GoodJobs2Montana has a larger proportion of workers who don't hold a bachelor's degree than the U.S., and of those non-BA workers, a small proportion of them have good jobs compared to the nation.


Montana has a greater proportion of good jobs in blue-collar industries than in skilled-services industries. We also have a greater proportion of blue-collar workers than the U.S.



Montana and the U.S. have a similar distribution of earnings for non-BA good jobs. Montana's non-BA workers with good jobs have median earnings that are $2000 higher than the nationwide median.

To read the complete report, please visit goodjobsdata.org/wp-content/uploads/Good-Jobs-States.pdf.

To find out more about the Good Jobs Project, visit their website at goodjobsdata.org.

1Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Good Jobs that Pay without a BA: A State-by-state Analysis.

Categories: Montana Labor Market Blog


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