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Press Release

Rethinking Occupational Mobility in a Post-Crisis Economy

With the demand for labor expected to shift in the post-pandemic economy, new research from the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland examines how transferable skills could both pave the way for lower-wage workers to move up to higher-paying positions and help meet the talent needs of employers.

Based on an analysis of job advertisements in the 33 largest metro areas in the country, the 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).

The report finds that in the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh metro areas, more than 45 percent of lower-wage employment can be associated with a transition that increases one’s median wage by more than $12,000.

Among the metro areas analyzed nationwide, the report estimates that transitioning to similar higher-paying occupations could represent an average annual increase in wages of nearly $15,000, or 49 percent. Further, nearly half (49 percent) of lower-wage jobs in the metro areas analyzed can be paired with at least one higher-paying occupation requiring similar skills but no bachelor’s degree. In conjunction 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.

The report includes detailed findings for each of the 33 metro areas analyzed. More: Exploring a Skills-Based Approach to Occupational Mobility

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.455.4479