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College Graduates and California’s Future

By Mark Baldassare, Hans Johnson

California’s population and economy are changing, and its higher education institutions need to increase both college enrollment and completion rates.

blog post

Testimony: Closing California’s Degree Gap

By Hans Johnson

The most promising approach to closing the workforce skills gap is to concentrate on improving the educational attainment of California residents.


Will California Run Out of College Graduates?

By Hans Johnson, Sarah Bohn, Marisol Cuellar Mejia

California’s higher education system is a critical driver of the state’s economic progress. As the state’s economy continues to change, will its workforce be ready for the jobs of tomorrow?

This report updates and extends projections of California’s workforce skills through 2030, focusing on the supply and demand for workers with a bachelor’s degree. We find that the state will fall about 1.1 million college graduates short of economic demand if current trends persist—a problem we call the workforce skills gap. Even the arrival of highly educated workers from elsewhere is unlikely to be large enough to fill this gap.

Today’s college graduates have better economic outcomes than those who do not hold a bachelor’s degree. Over time, college graduates have seen lower rates of unemployment and higher wages than other workers—even through the Great Recession—suggesting that college degrees have become increasingly valuable in California’s labor market.

The future workforce skills gap looms large. But California and its higher education institutions can take several practical steps to close it. The core of a new plan for higher education should include increasing access to the state’s four-year institutions, improving college completion rates, expanding transfer pathways from community colleges, and being smart about aid programs.


California’s Need for Skilled Workers

By Sarah Bohn

If recent trends continue, California is likely to face a shortage of workers with some college education but less than a bachelor’s degree by 2025. State and federal policymakers have increased their focus on boosting educational opportunities for this segment of the workforce. This report examines labor market outcomes among workers with some college training to shed light on the types of jobs that hold the most promise for future workers and the state economy.


The Changing Role of Education in the California Labor Market

By Julian Betts

It has been well-documented that the economic returns to education—that is, the wage gains associated with additional schooling—have risen dramatically in the United States since the late 1970s. In this study, the author examines the extent to which trends in California reflect those of the nation. This report examines:

  • Changes in the educational composition of California's workforce between 1970 and 1997 and how these changes compare with those in the rest of the nation.
  • The extent to which California's postsecondary education sector met the demand for skilled workers between 1970 and 1990.
  • The overall trend in the wage premium earned by college graduates, as well as the trends for high school graduates and those with less than 12 years of schooling.
  • How these trends varied across industrial and regional sectors in California and between native Californians, natives from elsewhere, and immigrants.

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