ERIC Number: ED351154
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
The Myth of the Coming Labor Shortage in Rural Areas. Briefing Paper.
Teixeira, Ruy A.; Mishel, Lawrence
This paper analyzes economic trends to determine if education should be the focal point for rural economic development. According to the labor shortage/skills mismatch view, the movement toward a "service economy" will accelerate in the 1990s, increasing the number of skilled jobs and the demand for skilled workers. This "supply-push" theory supposes that demand-side conditions for rural economic development have come into being, and attacks instead the supply-side problem, i.e., the chronic shortage of skilled workers in rural areas. Contrary to this theory, an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections suggests that there will not be an "explosion of skilled jobs" in the 1990s, either nationally or in rural areas. The paper analyzes changes in pay levels, skill requirements, average years of schooling, and educational requirements in the 1970-1988 period and uses them as a point of comparison for estimated future changes. It also compares rural and urban areas. The policy implications of the analysis are that: (1) the most serious obstacle to rural economic progress may be the lack of growth in high-skill jobs and not the skills and education level of the rural workforce; (2) efforts to upgrade worker skills by themselves seem unlikely to pay off since the availability of high-skill jobs will only increase slightly; and (3) rural upgrading only makes sense if coordinated with policies for boosting demand for rural high-skill workers. This paper contains numerous tables. The appendix provides information about the data used in the paper such as industrial and occupational data, pay levels, skill indices, and educational levels. (KS)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Aspen Inst., Durham, NH. Rural Economic Policy Program.; Ford Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Economic Policy Inst., Washington, DC.