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People Living in Rural Areas are More Likely to Work in Middle-Skill Jobs


A new study from the University of New Hampshire found that people who work in rural areas are more likely to work in middle-skill jobs, as compared to workers in urban areas. Middle-skill jobs are those which require some on-the-job-training, previous experience such as an apprenticeship, and a two-year degree.

“Two different trends are apparent in rural versus urban America. In rural places, the prevalence of middle-skill work has remained relatively stable over the last decade. In urban areas, however, these jobs have slowly but steadily declined in number,” said Justin Young, a doctoral student at UNH who conducted the research. “As policy makers continue to press for initiatives to put more Americans back to work, they must recognize the role that middle-skill jobs play in the U.S. economy.”

The study found that about half (51 percent) of American workers who live in rural areas had middle-skill jobs in 2012. Meanwhile, 42 percent of urban workers held middle-skill jobs in 2012. These numbers have mostly stayed the same since 2003, with the number of middle-skill workers in urban areas showing a slight decline. Furthermore, about half of all working men work in middle-skill jobs, and the same is true for 35 percent of working women.

“Although the middle-skill sector continues to represent an avenue to well-paying occupations that do not require formal education beyond a high school level, an increasing number of these jobs, such as those in the healthcare field, require workers to obtain a two-year degree or some other credential,” Young added.

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Marissa Brassfield
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