For millions of Americans the prospect of earning more money seems beyond their reach. They feel trapped in dead-end jobs or careers with little hope of increasing their paychecks.
But a recent estimate showed that upwards of 30 million workers in the U.S. already have the skills that would allow them to earn 70 percent more than they do today. The estimate came from a collaboration of academic, nonprofit and corporate researchers who examined data on jobs and skills.
“The findings point to the potential of upward mobility for millions of Americans, who might be able to climb from low-wage jobs to middle-income occupations or higher,” the New York Times wrote.
The research also demonstrated that those without a college degree – long used as a yardstick for ability and earning potential – face a lack of income mobility. That belief, researchers state, is misguided.
“We need to rethink who is skilled, and how skills are measured and evaluated,” said Peter Q. Blair, a labor economist at Harvard, who was a member of the research team.
For those who feel like they’ve reached their peak earning potential, consider Robert B. Johnson Jr., who worked as an administrative assistant at a finance company in Dallas. While building up business communications skills at his first office job, Johnson knew he was interested in technology and enrolled in a six-month computer programming course.
Not long after completing his coursework, he was hired at a local software company earning $55,000 a year compared to $30,000 at the finance company. Now he and his girlfriend are living in a new apartment, looking at houses and talking about starting a family.
“It’s the American dream stuff that didn’t seem feasible for me until now,” Johnson said.