Although Texas’ job growth continues to outpace the rest of the U.S. at all pay levels, a highly educated workforce is essential for Texas to continue making significant economic gains, according to a new report.
The report, “Texas Leads Nation in Creation of Jobs at All Pay Levels,” used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey to find that from 2000 to 2013, Texas had a higher job growth percentage than the rest of the U.S. The report also suggested that the top half of wage distribution accounted for 55 percent of job growth in Texas.
Co-author Pia Orrenius, who is a senior economist and vice president of the Federal Reserve of Dallas, said even though Texas has managed to create middle-class jobs, the lack of middle-class job growth in the rest of the U.S. and other countries will affect the state. She said quality education is a crucial factor to ensure that Texas continues to create high-paying jobs.
“Part of the problem has been that there’s been a lack of supply or a slowdown in the increase of the number of people with college degrees,” Orrenius said. “An important piece of this is to make sure that we continue to see an increase in the number of people with college degrees.”
Orrenius said she expects to see the greatest increase in job growth in finance, insurance, real estate, health, education and professional and business services, which include lawyers and accountants.
Robert Vega, Liberal Arts Career Services director, said UT graduates find jobs at all pay levels.
According to Vega, the National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted an early examination of UT’s class of 2014 and predicted 2014 salaries would not increase much from 2013. Overall, the 2014 average salary of a UT graduate is $45,473, which is a 1.2 percent increase from 2013. The 2014 average salary of College of Liberal Arts graduates is $38,045, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2013. College of Engineering graduates are reporting an average salary of $62,710, an increase of 0.3 percent.
Vega said the majority of UT students prefer to start a career in Austin or elsewhere in Texas, which affects their ability to find a job.
“When the economy is down, our graduates have to be more flexible and open-minded when searching for their first job,” Vega said. “When the economy is up, graduates may have a better employment outlook, but they must still be ready to compete in their targeted job search.”
According to economics senior Helen Lee, who has work-study and marketing experience, the consulting field is very competitive. Lee said she has already accepted a consulting job in The Woodlands.
“It is a good place for me to start out as a recent graduate, and there are a lot of opportunities in Texas,” Lee said. “However, I do think in the future that a master’s degree or a Ph.D. degree would be beneficial to advance my career.”
Orrenius said she expects more widespread job growth across the U.S., especially in states such as California and Florida.
“What we’re seeing now is that Texas has done extremely well since the recession … we were kind of the only game in town,” Orrenius said. “Now we’re seeing the rest of the U.S. catch up, and the forecast right now is very favorable. These other states are coming back finally, and it’s been a long haul, but that’s a positive.”