Published by the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland and based on an analysis of tens of millions of online job advertisements in the 33 largest metro areas, this report finds a high degree of similarity between the skills employers seek when filling lower-wage jobs and the skills demanded for opportunity occupations, or occupations that do not typically require a bachelor’s degree and that pay above the national annual median wage (adjusted for local cost-of-living differences). For nearly half of the lower-wage employment analyzed, we identify at least one higher-paying occupation requiring similar skills in the same metro area. We also find that transitions to similar higher-paying occupations would represent an average annual increase in wages of nearly $15,000, or 49 percent. Paired with targeted training, hiring processes that recognize the portability of skills across occupations could not only promote economic mobility for lower-wage workers but also help meet the talent needs of employers.

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