Why is it Significant?
A well-educated workforce constitutes an essential component of a region’s capacity to generate and support innovation-driven economic growth. Without a trained workforce, businesses will not expand or relocate to an area and, in some cases, may move away. Challenges to maintaining a suitably trained labor force in Massachusetts include the need to continually increase skill levels and the technical sophistication of workers. A highly educated workforce often results in a lower-than-average unemployment rate.
Education plays an important role in preparing Massachusetts residents to succeed in their evolving job requirements and adapt to shifting career trajectories. A strong education system also helps attract and retain workers who want excellent educational opportunities and skills for themselves and their children. Economic growth in Massachusetts is highly dependent upon maintaining a high level of skills, as well as diverse skills, within the workforce.
Investments in elementary, middle, and high schools are important for preparing a broadly educated and innovation-capable workforce. Investments in public, post-secondary education are critical to increase the ability of public academic institutions to prepare students for skilled and well-paying employment. In addition, well-regarded public higher education programs enhance Massachusetts’ distinctive ability to attract students from around the globe, some of whom choose to work in the Commonwealth after graduation.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education provides the skills and know-how that can help increase business productivity, create new technologies and companies, and establish the basis for higher-paying jobs. STEM degree holders are also important to the wider economy, as nearly 75% of them work in non-STEM occupations.
Migration patterns are a key indicator of a region’s attractiveness. Regions that are hubs of innovation have high concentrations of educated, highly-skilled workers and dynamic labor markets refreshed by inflows of talent. In-migration of well-educated individuals fuels innovative industries by bringing in diverse and high-demand skill sets.
Assessments of ‘quality of life’, of which housing affordability is a major component, influence Massachusetts’ ability to attract and retain talented people. Availability of affordable housing for both essential service providers (i.e. teachers, emergency services, etc) and entry-level workers can enable individuals to move to the area, thus facilitating business’ ability to fill open positions and fuel business expansion in the region. One measure for housing affordability is the Housing Price Index which is a weighted index measuring the movement of housing prices.
A state’s infrastructure is more than just the sum of its roads and bridges. Infrastructure is comprised of the transportation, communication, and energy systems within a state. It plays a crucial role in allowing goods and services to be moved into, within, and out of Massachusetts, whether physically or electronically. Energy is the unseen input that allows business to operate. Everything from data centers and offices to factories and hospitals consume it. Fast broadband connections increase business productivity and allow consumers to access a wider range of goods and services online. Additionally, the amount of time people spend commuting to and from work imposes a hidden cost on the economy, consuming time that could otherwise be spent productively elsewhere and affecting the overall quality of life. The more productive workers become, the more the cost of this lost time increases.