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Research Questions

  1. What are the characteristics of the API region's STEM labor market?
  2. Is the local talent pool graduating from high schools and colleges equipped with skills and trained in fields that could be utilized in the region's STEM labor market?
  3. Who are new hires in the extraction industry?

This second of five annual reports focuses on employment and wages in energy and advanced manufacturing–related industries and on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education indicators in the Appalachia Partnership Initiative (API) region, comprising twenty-seven counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Together, these reports will capture trends to (1) inform the regional stakeholder community across the API region about which localities might have greater demand for educating or employing local talent in STEM careers and (2) guide API investments and collaborative work.

Key Findings

  • Population decline is persistent and pervasive in most counties in the Appalachia Partnership Initiative (API) region. However, the population of the API region was virtually unchanged in size due to growth in a handful of counties.
  • Workers in traditional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields commanded the highest pay in the API region. However, these regional STEM pay levels lagged the national average pay levels for STEM workers.
  • In contrast, workers in extraction and construction fields in the API region commanded pay levels substantially above the national average pay levels for workers in these fields.
  • Both nationally and within the API region, real wages declined across all education levels in the past five years.
  • Most new hires in oil and gas extraction jobs in the region were drawn from labor pools in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • High school graduation rates rose in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, following a national trend. However, West Virginia students lagged national averages in mathematics and science assessment scores.
  • Overall, institutions of higher education within the API footprint appeared to be graduating students in majors applicable to the region's STEM workforce needs.

This research was sponsored by the Appalachia Partnership Initiative (API) and conducted within RAND Education and RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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