Supply and Demand for Middle‑Skill Occupations in Rural California in 2018–20
Expected growth in the population of rural areas of California and in the number of jobs in middle-skill occupations has increased interest in the alignment of middle-skill workforce supply and occupational demand, particularly in rural regions.
The purpose of this Regional Laboratory West (REL West) study was to examine the extent to which the workforce supply in four rural California regions aligned with the occupational demand in “middle-skill” jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree from 2017-2020. The study team used historical degrees and certificate awards to calculate the average annual number of credential completions between 2017 and 2020 and projected occupational demand during this period by using data from the Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) data system. The report includes analysis at the regional level and across the profiled regions, including the Central Valley and Mother Lode North, Central Valley and Mother Lode South, Northern Coastal, and Northern Inland.
The report found that 83,756 middle-skill workers annually are needed to fill available jobs in the four rural regions, but education institutions granted credentials to meet only 24 percent of the employer demand. The study also found that most of the available “middle skill” jobs pay a living wage at the entry level, and that the demand for most middle-skill occupations in rural California are projected to increase over time. The authors recommend that educational institutions identify opportunities to prepare more students for credentials in the programs that are aligned with in-demand occupations, such as expanding existing programs or starting new ones. They also recommend that local government, workforce investment boards, and chambers of commerce identify alternate sources of qualified labor to fill open positions such as “overqualified” local workers or qualified workers from outside each region.
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