Both the factory sector’s increasing technological sophistication and new production paradigms requiring more process-oriented, team-oriented workers have partially catalyzed a change whereby the share of the manufacturing workforce with a B.A. degree has increased from 16.3 percent in 2000 to 19.9 percent in 2012. The share with a graduate and/or professional degree rose from 5.7 percent to 8.8 percent over the same time period.

There has been a marked decline in the share of the U.S. factory workforce with less than a high school education, from 14.1 percent in 2000 to 10.6 percent in 2012. In a difficult post-recession labor market, where employers appear unwilling to take chances on hiring lower-educated and lower-skilled workers, this percentage will almost certainly continue to decline.

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