The Brookings Institution: No wage stagnation in “advanced industries”

As we noted earlier, the state economy appears to be on a positive growth track, with revenues and migration into the state increasing. That’s consistent with the story of the national recovery. But analysts and politicians continue to worry about wage stagnation. As The Brookings Institution reports, however, there’s a good story to tell about “advanced industries.”

Yet in one large and important sector of the economy—the amalgam of manufacturing, energy, and service businesses known as “advanced industries”—wages have grown strongly. We believe there is a lesson here.

As defined in our recent report, advanced industries are those that perform a high level of research and development per worker and employ a high percentage of workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupations. These industries provide the bulk of new inventions and products, while driving down consumer prices and spurring regional and national growth.

Opportunity Washington endorses state policies that spur R&D, STEM education, and innovation. Our research report notes that there are significant unfilled opportunities in critical sectors of our economy. 

For individuals, a strong education system is critical to becoming prepared to take advantage of the most exciting and rewarding career opportunities employers have to offer…

By 2020, estimates are that 70 percent of jobs in Washington will require some form of postsecondary education (compared to 65 percent nationally). Although Washington ranks 13th nationally in private sector job creation, 25,000 job openings in our state went unfilled for three months or more in 2013 because of a mismatch between the skills needed by employers and the qualifications of prospective employees.

These openings were heavily concentrated in high-demand fields such as health care, information technology and engineering. 

Preparing Washington students to take advantage of the opportunities presented by advanced industry in our state is the key to combating wage stagnation and expanding prosperity statewide.