Tag Archives: BLS

The Role of Certifications and Licenses in State Post-Secondary Attainment Goals


The above map shows state post-secondary attainment goals. Scroll over a state to see more information on its attainment goals.


This article is part of a series of reports on new estimates from the Labor Market Information Institute State Certification and Licenses Data Tables. Find previous blog posts in this series here.


Forty-two states have set goals for the attainment of post-secondary credentials, including degrees and certificates. This blogpost explores how these goals vary by state with special attention to whether and how states measure the attainment of professional credentials like certifications and licenses. [1]

Fifty States, Forty-Two Different Attainment Goals

State educational attainment goals are generally focused on increasing the overall level of education among state residents. States prioritize different types of credentials, including some and excluding others, and set goals for different sub-populations, focusing only on people in the workforce or setting specific goals for younger workers and new labor market entrants. States measure progress toward their goals in different ways as well, using different national and state databases to track educational attainment.

There are some similarities across states as well. Among the 42 states that have set goals, 31 measure attainment among the population ages 25 to 64, regardless of employment status.

Goals in three states measure the attainment of credentials only among the state’s workforce. Six states aim to increase the attainment of post-secondary credentials among their young adult population (ages 25-34). Minnesota and Washington set their attainment goals for working adults ages 25 to 44. Colorado and Pennsylvania aim to increase educational attainment among persons from traditionally underrepresented populations, reducing gaps in attainment among white and non-white populations.

Attainment goals also vary in their consideration of professional credentials. All 42 state attainment goals include the attainment of traditional degrees – including both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Six states only consider the attainment of degrees in their goal. Sixteen states additionally include certificates. The remaining 20 states track the attainment of any post-secondary credentials, including professional credentials like certifications and licenses and apprenticeship programs.

However, tracking the attainment of certificates and professional credentials can prove challenging for states.  Federal datasets that collect information on persons’ level of education typically only collect data on degree types, and do not collect data on certificates or professional credentials.  The next blogpost in this series will further explore available sources providing data on the attainment of professional credentials.

Measuring Attainment: Stories from Three States

Alabama, Iowa, and Washington all track the attainment of any post-secondary credential towards their higher education attainment goals. However, how these states track post-secondary credentials, and which post-secondary credentials each state tracks, varies.

Washington Student Achievement Council Educational Attainment Dashboard. Explore this dashboard at https://wsac.wa.gov/roadmap/attainment

The Washington Student Achievement Council set a 10-year goal in 2013 for 70% of Washington adults aged 25-44 to have a postsecondary credential by 2023.  Washington’s plan to increase educational attainment in the state specifically calls on increased attainment of “postsecondary certificate[s], apprenticeship[s], or degree[s].”[2]Washington Student Achievement Council Educational Attainment Dashboard

Washington tracks attainment of degrees using 1-year American Community Survey estimates[3], and estimates the attainment of high-value certificates using data annually produced by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce (CEW) on behalf of the Lumina Stronger Nation Report.[4] The CEW derives state level estimates for certificate attainment from U.S. Census and IPEDS data.

Iowa Laborshed Survey Analysis – Educational Attainment Dashboard. Explore this dashboard at https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/laborshed-studies

In 2016, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad set a goal for 70% of Iowa’s workforce to have “education or training beyond high school…including postsecondary degrees, certificates, and other high-quality credentials” by 2025.[5]  Future Ready Iowa and Iowa Workforce Development track the attainment of postsecondary credentials using the state’s Laborshed Survey.[6]  In addition to degree attainment, Iowa counts the attainment of “some education beyond high school, no degree obtained,” “vocational training,” and “trade certification” towards its attainment goal.

Alabama Works! Success Plus Educational Attainment Dashboard. Explore more at https://alabamaworks.com/successplus/

Alabama Works! set a goal for 60% of the state’s working age population to hold “some type of certificate, credential or degree of value” by 2025 in response to an executive order from Governor Kay Ivey in 2017.  Alabama Works tracks the attainment of postsecondary credentials using data from the Current Population Survey.  In addition to degree attainment, the Current Population Survey additionally tracks the attainment of certifications and licenses, of which Alabama specifically tracks the attainment of certifications and licenses that are required for an individual’s job.

Read more about the data sources mentioned in this article in our February 2020 blog post on certifications and licenses.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Current Population Survey collects information on the prevalence of certifications and licenses in the United States, published annually. Using this data, the Labor Market Information (LMI) Institute produced state-level estimates on the prevalence of certifications and licenses, including tables comparing certification and licensure by educational attainment across occupations, age, race and ethnicity, and gender.


[1] All data on state attainment goals provided by the Lumina Foundation and aggregated by HCM Strategists, unless otherwise noted.  http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/media/Attainment_Goal_state%20rundown_021519.pdf

[2] https://wsac.wa.gov/the-2013-roadmap

[3] https://wsac.wa.gov/roadmap/attainment

[4] http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/#page/sources

[5] https://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Executive%20Order%2088.pdf

[6] https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/laborshed-studies

Trends in Certification and License Attainment and Earnings by Education Level


The above figure shows the attainment rate and difference in median weekly earnings between workers with and without a certification or license by education level.

This article is part of a series of reports on new estimates from the Labor Market Information Institute State Certification and Licenses Data Tables. Find previous blog posts in this series here.


The attainment of certifications and licenses, and their associated earnings, varies by education level. U.S. workers with a degree attain certifications and licenses at a higher rate than workers without a degree. However, workers with less than a degree had the largest and most consistent boost in earnings relative to their non-credentialed counterparts. Workers without a degree earned at least $95 more with a certification or license in every state.

Key Definitions and Methods

The attainment rate is the percentage of the population with a certification or license

To find the attainment rate for various sub-populations, we divide the number of people in the sub-population with a certification or license by the total number of people in the sub-population.

The difference in earnings is found by subtracting the earnings of people without a certification or license from the earnings of people with a certification or license

Attainment by Education Level

Thirty percent of full-time workers with a degree and 11 percent of full-time workers without a degree have a certification or license in the United States.

When examined by level of education, the attainment rate continues to vary by state. The percent of workers with a degree and a certification or license varies from 37.1% in Wyoming to 23.8% in the District of Columbia. The percent of workers without a degree and a certification or license varies from 16.4% in Alaska to 7.8% in South Carolina. Attainment rates of certifications and licenses are high in Wyoming and Alaska regardless of education level. 35.8% of Alaskans with a degree have a certification or license, the 4th highest rate among states for workers with a degree. 14.3% of Wyomingites without a degree have a certification or license, also the 4th highest among states for workers without a degree.


The above figure shows the attainment rate by education level. The attainment rate is the percentage of the population with a certification or license.

Earnings by Education Level

While we might expect the increase in earnings associated with the attainment of certifications or licenses to accelerate with higher levels of education, workers without a degree had the largest difference in earnings between workers with and without a certification or license. In fact, workers with a degree earned less with a certification or license than their non-credentialed counterparts in two states, Washington and Oklahoma.

Full-time workers with a degree had $1,229 in median weekly earnings with a certification or license, $68 more than similar workers without a certification or license.

Earnings for workers with a degree and a certification or license also vary by state. Workers with a degree in Mississippi had the lowest median weekly earnings with a certification or license of any state, $974, although these workers earned $85 more than similar, non-credentialed workers. In the District of Columbia, workers with a degree and a certification or license had $1,823 in median weekly earnings, the most of any state. These workers earned $294 more than similar workers without a certification or license. Workers with a degree and a certification or license also earned $200 more than their non-credentialed counterparts in Hawaii ($241), Nevada ($221), and New York ($209).

However, workers with a degree earned less with a certification or license than without in Washington and Oklahoma. Workers with a degree in Washington earned $1,379, or $7 less, with a certification or license, and workers with a degree in Oklahoma earned $1,024, or $12 less, with a certification or license, relative to workers without a certification or license in each respective state.


The above figure shows median weekly earnings with and without a certification or license by education level. Earnings without a certification or license are in orange, earnings with a certification or license are in blue.

While U.S. workers without a degree only had $796 in median weekly earnings with a certification or license, these earnings were $104 or 15% more than those of similar workers without a certification or license.

In contrast to workers with a degree, workers without a degree earned at least $95 more with a certification or license in every state. Workers without a degree in Colorado had $1,010 in median weekly earnings with a certification or license, $251 more than similar workers without a certification or license. Colorado workers without a degree had the largest difference in earnings between workers with and without a certification or license of any state. Workers without a degree also earned $200 more than their non-credentialed counterparts in Hawaii ($237), Alaska ($214), and Arizona ($203). Workers without a degree in Alaska had median weekly earnings of $1,022 with a certification or license, the most of any state.

Workers without a degree in Florida had the lowest median weekly earnings with a certification or license of any state, $740. These workers only earned $95 more than similar workers without a certification or license. Workers without a degree with a certification or license only earned less than $100 more than their non-credentialed counterparts in Arkansas ($98), Missouri ($97), Ohio ($96), Vermont ($95), Nebraska ($95), Florida ($95).


The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Current Population Survey collects information on the prevalence of certifications and licenses in the United States, published annually. Using this data, the Labor Market Information (LMI) Institute produced state-level estimates on the prevalence of certifications and licenses, including tables comparing certification and licensure by educational attainment across occupations, age, race and ethnicity, and gender.


 

Data Advocacy Update

2017 has brought a great deal of change to Washington, with a new Administration and Congress. With so many new faces and political developments, it can be hard to keep up. There are a few important developments that you need to pay attention to.

The “skinny budget” proposed by the Trump Administration contains a series of substantial cuts to federal statistical agencies. This budget provides $1.5 billion, an increase of more than $100 million, for the U.S. Census Bureau to continue preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census. This additional funding prioritizes fundamental investments in information technology and field infrastructure, which would allow the bureau to more effectively administer the 2020 Decennial Census. However, the Census Bureau will require significant increases in its budget to prepare for and administer the rapidly approaching Census.

The proposed budget consolidates the mission, policy support, and administrative functions of the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Department of Commerce’s Office of the Secretary. It will also reduce funding for USDA’s statistical capabilities, while maintaining core Departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture.

Keep in mind that Congress has the power of the purse and that the drastic cuts proposed by the President are only proposals. A full budget will emerge later in the spring with more details, and this is when the real decisions will be made about the FY 2018 budget. It is increasingly likely that the FY 2017 budget will be a continuing resolution, effectively extending funding at current levels until the end of the fiscal year.

There are also important decisions to be made regarding leadership for the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Census Bureau Director John Thompson’s five-year term expires at the end of 2017, while Bill Wiatrowski is serving as Acting Commissioner of the BLS following the end of former Commissioner Erica Groshen’s term. It is important that President Trump appoint quality leaders who understand the importance of these agencies.

There are several other legislative priorities to consider with regard to federal statistics. While there is less support for making the American Community Survey voluntary, which would dramatically reduce response rates, there are other concerning developments. The Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), could limit data available for Department of Housing and Urban Development geospatial data. There are concerns that the Census could become politicized by the inclusion of questions of immigration status in the survey.

C2ER is working hard to ensure that these valuable data resources are protected and supported in Congress. We will continue to monitor these developments and educate policymakers about the critical importance of federal statistics to C2ER members.

C2ER Attends SelectUSA Summer Forum

C2ER staffer Wen Sun attended the SelectUSA Summer Forum  held in Washington, DC on June 17th, where Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker unveiled the newly designed Access Costs Everywhere (ACE) framework, one of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)’s tools to assist manufacturers and other businesses investing in the United States. Secretary Pritzker also discussed the Department’s investments in a wide array of other initiatives, including the newly launched U.S. Cluster Mapping tool. Continue reading

Public data making the rounds in the media

As the appropriations process gears up on Capitol Hill, government officials, advocates, and journalists are making the case for preserving public data.

C2ER calling on Congress to restore, modernize BLS budget

C2ER has learned that the Senate and House are developing appropriations proposals that must ready in the next few weeks. To that end, C2ER will be coordinating outreach to both committees, as well as to key individual members of each, calling on the House and Senate to increase the total Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) budget request to $631.4 million.

This would include the following proposals:  Continue reading