Aligning Jobs with Skills

by Dr. Lynn Reaser

Some puzzling features in the labor market have surfaced in recent months. The number of unfilled positions has increased despite high unemployment. A mismatch appears to exist between the skill sets required by firms looking for workers versus those possessed by the unemployed. Many unemployed are finding it difficult to move up, down, or horizontally in the job market to find work. They cannot move up in many cases because they lack the educational or technical skills. They are reluctant to move down to jobs requiring skills below their capabilities or to positions offering less pay than they previously earned. Extended unemployment benefits may be amplifying this trend. Many people cannot move horizontally across geography from areas losing jobs to those adding them because of difficulty in selling their homes. These disconnects in the labor market are all contributing to the jobless rate’s sluggish decline and will continue to frustrate attempts to find a quick solution.


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