Less than half of all West Virginia jobs (49%) will require some post-secondary education training beyond high school in 2018, according to a recent study from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. West Virginia was the lowest among all the states plus the District of Columbia. West Virginia ranks 51st in the proportion of its 2018 jobs that will require a Bachelor’s degree.
Among our neighboring states, Maryland and Virginia ranks above the national average. West Virginia is the only state in the country that has less than half of its jobs requiring less than a college degree.
There are an inadequate number of good paying jobs to accommodate resident West Virginia college graduates who can earn higher wages outside of West Virginia, especially for workers who’ve earned a Bachelors’ degree. Consequently, one-third of West Virginia’s most highly qualified college students leave the state in order to find good paying jobs because of the lack of suitable employment.
While the work participation rate in 2008 for West Virginia public higher education graduates was 54 percent, which included both in-state and out-of-state residents, it was only 67 percent for in-state students. That is, one-third of resident West Virginia graduates leave the state after graduation.
In 2008, 2,301 of the 3,692 PROMISE graduates were employed by West Virginia companies after graduating during the 2003-2004 school year, yielding a work participation rate of only 62 percent.
The inability of West Virginia to create good paying jobs by 2018 combined with the fact that we’re losing about one-third of our resident college graduates will continue to put pressure on West Virginia to compete with our neighboring states.