Recent articles and studies indicate that U.S. manufacturing jobs are being affected more by technology than cross-border competition. These data underlie a growing need to consider a new “extraction strategy” for rural America.
To begin, it is useful to consider the three broad categories into which American jobs fall: low, middle, and high skill. According to sources cited by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute, low-skill jobs generally require a high-school diploma, less than a year of related experience, and less than one month of “on the job” training; high-skill jobs require at least a college degree; and, middle-skill jobs require at least one month to a year of “on the job training” or an apprenticeship, vocational degree, or one-to-five years’ experience in a similar job. “Middle-skill” jobs may include electricians or medical assistants.
According to the Carsey Institute, rural workers are more likely than urban workers to hold middle-skill jobs. And, according to the National Skills Coalition (NSC), 53 percent of U.S. jobs in 2015 were middle-skill. It is expected that demand for middle-skill jobs will remain strong over the next decade. But, the NSC, relying on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, finds that training for middle-skill jobs lags about ten percent behind demand.