ECON312N Principles of Economics
Week 5 Discussion
Unemployment and Skills Mismatch
Read/review the following resources for this activity:
Textbook: Chapter 14, 15
In the last few years, there has been a debate about the main causes of the high rates of unemployment during the Great Recession (2008-2009). One line of argument is that there is a misalignment between the skill-sets required by employers and the skill-sets of job seekers, which continues to keep millions of Americans out of the job market. In an article published in MIT Technical Review Business Report, Majcher (2014) reported that “employers have 300,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs” which she attributes to the lack of the required skills needed in the manufacturing sector (para. 1).
Since 2010, there has been a steady decrease in the unemployment rate. In fact, in its April 2018 Hiring and Unemployment report, the Labor Department presented the unemployment rate as 3.9%. Despite this low rate of unemployment, there is still a significantly large number of people who cannot find jobs. In a research conducted by LiveCareer, it was reported that “companies claim they cannot find workers with the right skill sets, while workers complain that their existing skills are becoming obsolete due to technological change and automation of various job functions. Less skilled workers simply are not fit for many jobs in the digital age.” (LiveCareer, 2018, para. 1). The lack of well-trained and skilled workers, some worry, may have adverse consequences on the performance of the U.S economy as the economy grows and the productivity of labor becomes increasingly crucial in sustaining the growth. As pointed out in their 2017 report, the Business Roundtable – an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies – surveyed its members and reported that “as America continues to recover from the worst economic recession since 1930, our economic growth is hindered because the skills of today’s workers have not kept up with requirements of current and future jobs” (p. 1). This state of affairs, the report argues, is caused by the fact that “the working-age population is growing at half the rate of the past century; labor force participation is holding steadily below that of the past three decades and baby boomers are retiring in record numbers” (p. 1). The report went on to state that “no amount of automation or technological innovation can overcome these headwinds if our nation does not take action to ensure that our labor force holds the skills needed for today’s jobs and for the future” (p. 1).
Initial Post Instructions
For the initial post, address the following:
What educational and job training policy proposals would you like to see implemented to help resolve the apparent skills-mismatch in the U.S labor market?