STEM doesn’t dominate Michigan middle class jobs

This post updates our analysis of the proportion of good-paying Michigan jobs that are in STEM fields. This time using our middle class jobs for a three person household threshold. Where we define middle class as payroll jobs than pay at least $47,026, and upper middle class as payroll jobs than pay at least $70,539.

First what do we mean by STEM? Our definition is jobs in Computer and Mathematical Occupations; Architecture and Engineering Occupations; Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations; Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations; and Healthcare Support Occupations.

We separate health care occupations from the engineering, IT and other math and science occupations. These occupations include the professional trades in IT and health care.

In a previous post we detailed that in Michigan’s strong 2019 economy only 41 percent of Michigan jobs pay middle class wages for a three person household. Let’s look at how many of those jobs are in STEM.

Of the 1,789,000 Michigan middle class jobs, 253,000 (14 percent) are in non health care STEM occupations and 237,000 (13 percent) are in health care occupations. So combined 27 percent of middle class Michigan jobs are in STEM occupations.

Middle class paying STEM jobs are predominantly in our upper middle class category. 34 percent of upper middle class jobs are in STEM occupations: 19 percent in non health care STEM and 15 percent in health care. These jobs are in occupations that overwhelmingly require a four-year degree or more.

So the story we should be telling ourselves––and particularly our kids––is yes there are lots of middle class paying jobs and careers in STEM, but there are even more in non STEM occupations. That the middle class STEM jobs are overwhelmingly in occupations that require a four-year degree or more. That is particularly true for the highest-paid occupations.

So STEM is a path, but not the only or even the dominant path, to a good-paying career. Good-paying careers are available primarily in a wide variety of professional and managerial occupations. What all these occupations have in common with STEM occupations is that most require a four-year degree or more.

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