PDF Version

Policy Alert and
State Supplements
available  HERE


Fact #1:
The U.S. workforce is becoming more diverse.
Fact #2:
The racial/ethnic groups that are the least educated are the fastest growing.
IF current population trends continue and states do not improve the education of all racial/ethnic groups, the skills of the workforce and the incomes of U.S. residents are projected to decline over the next two decades.*

*These projections are based on the recent report, As America Becomes More Diverse: The Impact of State Higher Education Inequality, by Patrick J. Kelly at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), with support from the Lumina Foundation. For the full report, see

This national Policy Alert and 10 state supplements can be downloaded from the National Center's Web site at



If current trends continue, the proportion of workers with high school diplomas and college degrees will decrease and the personal income of Americans will decline over the next 15 years.

Substantial increases in those segments of America’s young population with the lowest level of education, combined with the coming retirement of the baby boomers—the most highly educated generation in U.S. history—are projected to lead to a drop in the average level of education of the U.S. workforce over the next two decades, unless states do a better job of raising the educational level of all racial/ethnic groups.

The projected decline in educational levels coincides with the growth of a knowledge-based economy that requires most workers to have higher levels of education. At the same time, the expansion of a global economy allows industry increased flexibility in hiring workers overseas. As other developed nations continue to improve the education of their workforces, the United States and its workers will increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

In addition, a drop in the average level of education of U.S. workers would depress personal income levels for Americans, in turn creating a corresponding decrease in the nation’s tax base.

The projected declines in educational and income levels can be reversed, however, if states do a better job of increasing the education of all their residents, particularly those populations that are growing fastest.


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