State leaders are focused on skill development and apprenticeships as the way forward in increasing labor participation and attracting mid- and high-wage jobs to their states. As states and businesses continue to recover from the Great Recession, both are attempting to do so in a new environment. The 21st century has seen two historic shifts related to economics and workforce development. The first is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States and the second is the new technological requirements of these jobs. While job opportunities continue to grow, today’s factories employ fewer people but require greater levels of technical knowledge from employees.

The election of Donald J. Trump in November left some state transportation advocates scratching their heads about the role states and localities will need to play in the years ahead to ensure that progress on transportation continues, that priorities are maintained and that future investments reflect those priorities.

Global conflicts, health risks, populist political movements and changing attitudes toward trade all represent unpredictable influences on global economic stability, which has significant impact on states’ economies. In 2016, the world saw a number of political and trade issues—such as the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, also known as Brexit, and Americans’ resistance to international trade agreements—emerge unexpectedly that will continue to resonate in 2017. With little certainty as to how these and other issues will play out, global economic instability will be the most important international issue facing states this year.

All but three state legislatures will meet in 2017 to adopt budgets. Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program that currently covers about 73 million Americans, is the single-largest component of state budgets. It is all but certain that big changes are ahead for Medicaid under the Trump administration, but the shape, fiscal impact and speed of those changes are likely to remain unclear before sine die adjournment in many states.

On Jan. 20, President Donald Trump took the Oath of Office to be sworn in as America’s 45th president. Thousands stood along the National Mall to watch him offer his inaugural address. Meanwhile, behind the scenes of the inaugural festivities and mostly out of the public eye, frenetic activity has been taking place to plan and prepare for the transition to the next administration. The president’s transition team must fill 4,000 political appointments to lay the groundwork for implementing the new administration’s policy agenda, and provide for the effective management of our civil service and military.