72 Percent of Jobs to Require College Degree By 2031: Report

72 Percent of Jobs to Require College Degree By 2031: Report

Students earning degrees at Pasadena City College participate in the graduation ceremony in Pasadena, Calif., on June 14, 2019. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte


Updated: 12/30/2023

Almost three-fourths of U.S. jobs will require a college degree by the year 2031, according to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Job fields that require higher education are growing at a faster rate than those that don’t—a trend that has stayed consistent over the past several decades, according to the report.
In 1983, only 32 percent of jobs in the nation required a college degree or another type of postsecondary education, which skyrocketed to 68 percent by 2021, the report stated.
Now, researchers estimate 72 percent of jobs will require such in eight years.
“Postsecondary education is no longer just the preferred pathway to middle-class jobs—it is, increasingly, the only pathway,” the report stated. “People without postsecondary education and training often end up working in the blue-collar and skilled-trades economy, but even many of those jobs are requiring workers with at least some education or training beyond high school.”
The report also predicted that the number of jobs in the U.S. will grow from 156 million in 2021 to 171 million in 2031.
The District of Columbia is the region with the highest estimated percentage of jobs that will require postsecondary education by 2031, at more than 85 percent, with Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Washington following behind.
Conversely, Arkansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Nevada will have around the lowest percentage requiring such qualifications, about 60 percent, by 2031.
Meanwhile, California is right in the middle, with the report projecting that 67 percent of jobs—or 12.6 million—will require postsecondary education in California by 2031.
Between 2021 and 2031, the report estimates an average of 2.1 million job openings will be created annually in California, mostly due to retirements, but also from new jobs being created.
The report estimates that 1.4 million of the annual job openings in the state will be for workers with postsecondary credentials, while 442,000 will be for those with a high school diploma, and 265,000 for those without.
It also addressed claims that automated technology and artificial intelligence will replace U.S. jobs in the future.
According to the report, such technology will likely make tasks easier for workers in certain jobs, but will not replace positions altogether.
“Some futurists predict automation will cause significant job losses—up to half of all jobs— within 10 to 30 years,” the report said. “However, our research shows that automation primarily will eliminate specific tasks within jobs rather than wipe out entire jobs. We see no evidence that most jobs will die out. Instead, we believe that the nature of jobs will change while the number of jobs continues to grow—at least until the end of our projection period in 2031. Claims of rampant job losses beyond that date are highly speculative.”
Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte


Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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