Survey distances education from joblessness

It sounds like a common-sense conclusion, and the numbers bear it out: Individuals with more education are much less likely to be unemployed or live in poverty.

Chad Kline, Wells County’s economic development director, says that boosting educational attainment is a priority going forward.

His office, he said, “has continued to place a strong effort in increasing educational attainment for Wells County residents.”

A recent grant received from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, in conjunction with Adams County, has boosted individual incomes locally, Kline said.

“We are hosting a number of training opportunities to increase industry level certifications,” Kline said in an email. “These certifications have resulted in an increase in wages for many of the participants.”

During the next year, he said, training sessions will be set up for certifications in welding, computer numerical control (known as CNC), industrial maintenance, and leadership and supervision.

Data from the American Community Survey for northeast Indiana show that, for the period between 2012 and 2016, 47.3 percent of northeast Indiana residents between the ages of 25 and 64 who had not graduated from high school were unemployed and 22.8 percent of them were living in poverty. In Wells County, those numbers were 36.8 percent unemployed and 18.3 percent living in poverty.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 15.5 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher were unemployed in the region during that time and only 3.9 percent were living in poverty. In Wells County, those numbers were 18.3 percent unemployed and 2.3 percent living in poverty.

The information was contained in a press release from Northeast Indiana Works, the workforce development board that serves Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.

The term “unemployed” refers to people who are not working and it does not matter if they are looking or not looking for a job. The U.S. Census Bureau determines poverty using income thresholds determined by family size and composition. Rick Farrant, director of communications for Northeast Indiana Works, says the percentages listed in the survey are averages over the five-year period.

The ACS also showed that the percentages of northeast Indiana residents with post-secondary education is increasing.

“ACS data shows that the percentage of people with an associate degree rose from 8.6 percent for the period between 2007 and 2011 to 9.2 percent for 2012-2016; the percentage for those with a bachelor’s degree increased from 13.4 percent to 14.2 percent; and the percentage of people with graduate or professional degrees went up from 7.0 percent to 7.6 percent,” the Northeast Indiana Works announcement said.

The report also said that percentages are dropping for those with less than a high school education.

Northeast Indiana Works said last year that there was a similar link between education and wages — the more education, the more one is paid. Over the course of a career, the agency said, “a person with an associate’s degree is likely to make more than twice as much money as a person without a high school (diploma).”

In making the announcement, Edmond O’Neal, the president of Northeast Indiana Works, said individuals would be “wise to specifically consider training and education that meets the occupational needs of employers.”

“One way people can do that is by taking advantage of the state’s Next Level Jobs initiative, which provides free training leading to certifications and high-growth, in-demand careers, or by considering other free training opportunities that may be available through WorkOne Northeast,” he said. “These training opportunities are beneficial for people not yet in the workforce and those in the workforce who want to upgrade their skills to meet the ever-changing needs of the region’s employers.”

Story by Dave Shultz, Courtesy of the News-Banner

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