Bellevue University Study: Nearly Half of Americans Re-Evaluating Career Path

Mar 21, 2012, 08:00 ET from Bellevue University

BELLEVUE, Neb., March 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bellevue University, an award-winning leader in educating adult learners, today released the results of a U.S. consumer study that revealed nearly half (47 percent) of Americans are re-evaluating their occupations.  This shift by working adults to new vocations is directly related to the fact that, across the nation, there are a number of industries in decline.

  • One in four Americans say they are re-thinking their occupation because few jobs exist in their declining industry; they must switch careers to enter a growing field.
  • With money tight, Americans who have been out of the workforce for several years have decided to go back to work to supplement the family income. Women are leading this charge – 1 in 10 women (11 percent) report returning to the workforce to help make ends meet.
  • During the down economy, 12 percent of working adults have decided to start their own business.
  • Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of working adults are unhappy at work. They report wanting to change the type of work they do because they want to find a job doing something they actually enjoy.

Market research firm IBISWorld Inc. published a list of 10 industries in America that had the steepest decline in revenue during the last decade and are forecasted to further contract through 2016.  Also according to a research report issued by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, hundreds of thousands of low-skill jobs in manufacturing, farming, fishing, and forestry have been permanently destroyed because the recession has further prompted employers to either automate those positions or ship them offshore to take advantage of cheap labor.  Overall, the report projects 637,000 jobs in the Manufacturing and Natural Resources industries will meet such fates by 2018. 

"Declining industries dislocate workers en masse. Unfortunately, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than one million people are or will be displaced across industries that are waning in America," said Dr. Mary B. Hawkins, president of Bellevue University.  "People who currently hold jobs in industries that are in decline need to take action, today, so they can secure a job in a growing industry.  The new jobs being created are very different kinds of jobs, requiring different kinds of workers.  This shift in requirements means displaced workers need to seek education and training that will prepare them for tomorrow's jobs."

The Bellevue University survey revealed Americans are already feeling the effects of this decline.  "One in four working adults have had to re-assess their livelihood because there simply aren't enough jobs available in the industries where they've worked for the last several years," said Dr. Hawkins.  "A large number of Americans are currently facing the reality of having to switch careers so they can find a job in a growing field, and they aren't equipped to make the transition."  

The survey also revealed that, with money tight, Americans who have been out of the workforce for several years have decided to go back to work to supplement the family income. Women are leading this charge – one in 10 women report returning to the workforce to help make ends meet.  These findings are in line with data from the U.S. Census Bureau that shows the number of stay-at-home mothers fell from 5.3 million to 5 million. 

This back-to-work trend for women is not based solely on need, however.  Time Magazine reported there is strong evidence that earnings make a woman more, not less, desirable as a partner.  Men are increasingly looking for partners who will pull their own weight economically in marriage.  "This cultural trend is validated by the sheer increase in women who are getting college degrees, with female students making up the majority of people earning doctorates and master's degrees," said Dr. Hawkins.  "The trend is also corroborated by a University of Texas at Austin study, which found that in just over five decades, there was a huge jump in the weight men gave to women's earnings when ranking traits important in a mate and a sharp drop in the value they placed on domestic skills."

Also, according to the Bellevue University study released today, nearly one-quarter of working adults simply don't like their jobs.  They desire a career transition because they want to find jobs they actually enjoy. In some cases, that means inventing a job for themselves, which is why 12 percent of survey respondents have decided to start their own businesses.

"When faced with changing careers or re-entering the workforce, Americans must first identify a new direction for their work.  Then, they have to consider whether they have all the knowledge and skills necessary for a successful transition," said Dr. Hawkins.  "If they don't, there are several ways to get what they need: workshops, seminars, continuing education courses, certifications, and college degrees are all valuable ways to gain knowledge and skills."

The simple fact that by 2018, 60 percent of jobs in the U.S. will require workforce training or a higher education, has Americans contemplating getting a degree.  "Our research shows 60 percent of Americans have given some thought or a lot of thought to going back to school," said Dr. Hawkins.  "With this in mind, we've launched Make It Happen Now, a media site designed to engage Americans from the pool of 38 million who have some college credit and are thinking about returning to school.  It will help them organize their personal goals, think through the steps they need to take to achieve their goals, and solidify their commitment to themselves and their future."

About the Study
This survey was conducted by Bellevue University ( For this research, 1,642 interviews were fielded among nationally representative Americans aged 18 and older, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population ages 18 and older.  Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points.

About Bellevue University
Bellevue University is a recognized national leader in providing post-secondary education opportunities for working adults. A private, non-profit institution, Bellevue University serves students at learning sites in three states, as well as worldwide through its award-winning online learning platform. Bellevue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. For more information, visit

About Make It Happen Now
Bellevue University's nationwide campaign - Make It Happen Now - is designed to help achieve America's ambitious national goal of once again having the world's highest percentage of adults with a college degree by 2025.  In a single generation, the United States has fallen from first place to 12th in global graduation rates for young adults.  Make It Happen Now will accelerate efforts addressing the nation's education deficit and facilitate personal commitments from people across that nation to help achieve the national objective of producing eight (8) million more college graduates over the next decade in order to compete globally and keep up with other countries that are developing high-tech, high-skill jobs. 

To help working adults and business leaders understand the higher education crisis in America and take steps to combat it, Bellevue University has launched a new online destination website - - to provide helpful tips to motivate and support people who want to advance their education and live better lives, step-by-step strategies for overcoming personal challenges that get in the way of going back to school, and regular news updates.  For more information, visit



SOURCE Bellevue University