New England has undergone significant change in its employment and labor force over the past three decades. Employment in the region has shifted from manufacturing into services at a faster rate than it has in the United States as a whole. Within manufacturing the trend has been away from nondurable goods into high-value-added, high-tech industries. In this transition, both income and productivity have increased more rapidly in the region than in the nation.
Recent trends in population, labor force, and college degrees awarded pose threats to New England's long-term prosperity, however. Growth in the region's high-tech sector has lagged the nation's in recent years. Slow labor force growth has contributed to low unemployment rates, but it has also limited the pool of available workers. The region has also lost share in producing college graduates. The authors highlight both the opportunities and the challenges facing the region as the twenty-first century approaches.