Friday, October 7, 2011

A tragedy of our time – jobs go unfilled as the unemployed can’t find jobs

A few weeks ago on September 13, Dr. Douglas W. Elmendorf, director of the Government's official nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office testified in front of the newly formed Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Within the first few minutes of his testimony he said, "Weakness in the demand for goods and services is the principal restraint on hiring, but structural impediments in the labor market—such as a mismatch between the requirements of existing job openings and the characteristics of job seekers—appear to be hindering hiring as well."

The next day, the Wall Street Journal reported that the number of small businesses seeing a skills shortage has crept up this year. In August, 33% of small businesses reported having few or no qualified applicants for job openings, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey. That was up from 21% in December 2009.
The State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board reported last week that key industries in Seattle including Business services, accounting, health care and manufacturing are all expecting major shortages of skilled workers within the next few years. Shortages are expected in occupations like accounting assistants and technicians, industrial machinery mechanics, telecommunications equipment installer and repairers, lab technician and registered nurses.

Is this really the time to make huge cutbacks in education and training? Is it actually costing us less to pay out unemployment benefits, foodstamps and emergency health care?

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