Category Archives: Job Creation

Jobs recovery? Not so much…

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I’ve referenced several times the good work that Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce is doing in predicting the educational Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce logopreparedness (or lack thereof) of the workforce in relation to the anticipated jobs growth in the United States. Anthony P. Carnevale and his colleagues have just published Recovery:  Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020. This is a follow up to their 2010 publication, Help Wanted:  Projection of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.

The bad news is that the educational preparedness of the U.S. workforce is getting worse as we look to the future. Without systemic changes to the U.S. post-secondary education system, the economy will now fall 5 million workers short with post-secondary degrees by 2020 – an increase of 2 million from their projection of a 3 million shortfall in 2018.

While many sources are predicting that the U.S. economy will create 55 million new job openings over the next decade, these new job openings are a combination of an anticipated 24 million newly created jobs and 31 million openings created by Baby Boomer retirements. Foundational to the calculations are that jobs are returning much more slowly that we thought they would following the recession.

Recovery Figure 1

Still, an increase of 24 million new jobs between now and 2020 seems hugely optimistic. That’s an average of 307,000 new jobs per month between now and 2020. When has the U.S. sustained that kind of consistent job growth? Well, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the last 30 years, only 1994 averaged new jobs creation at a rate of over 300,000 per month. 1994. A long time ago.

So there’s that.

But there’s more from this report that’s worth noting for those concerned about the future of the talent pipeline:

  • By 2020, 65% of all jobs in the economy will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school

    • 35% of the job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree

    • 30% of the job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree

    • 36% of the job openings will not require education beyond high school

Reccovery Figure 4

The implications here are clear regardless of the numbers of new jobs created: employers and others predict that soon nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require some kind of post-secondary education or training. In 1973 – just 40 years ago – less than one-third of all jobs required the same. Forty years isn’t a very long time – just one generation. Lots of change in the nature of jobs, work, education, skills and employability in 40 years.

The report also defines the skills that will be most valued and in demand for the new jobs landscape. These are not as revolutionary as one might think. Cognitive skills of leadership, communication, analytics and administration will be most valued and in demand. Take a look and see what you think.

The Center on Education and the Workforce generates useful information for those involved with education and/or workforce planning – functions that should joined at the hip today and in the future.

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Filed under Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Center on Education and the Workforce, China Gorman, College Graduation Rates, Education Deficit, Job Creation, Post-secondary education

High Cost of ‘Mal-employment’

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Professor Andrew Sum from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University has done a great deal of research on the effect of the most recent recession on the youngest cohorts in our economy.  (I wrote about other of his research here.)

A recent CNNMoney article highlighted some interesting data from Dr. Sum’s most recent research efforts. And it has to do with the ability of recent college graduates to enter the economy in jobs that require their degrees.

Recent college gradsWith unemployment still above 7%, it’s not hard to understand that young people armed with a newly minted degree and little experience are having a hard time connecting to jobs. People with degrees and lots of experience are having a hard time connecting to jobs.

While we know that the data regarding the lifetime earnings differential for college graduates is a compelling argument for college attendance, the “mal-employment rate” together with the student debt-load most graduating college seniors are burdened with might be making young people have second thoughts about investing in a four year degree. And that’s bad news.

The Lumina Foundation tracks our progress towards attaining the national goal that 60% of Americans obtain a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. And in 2011, the last year for which the data are complete, the percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with two- or four- year college degrees was 38.7%. Our goal is 60%. Our current level is 38.7%. That’s really bad news.

Add to this the expectation that 65% of U.S. jobs will require some kind of postsecondary education by 2020 – and it’s really, really bad news.

These are difficult data points at the intersection of jobs, education and the talent pipeline. And they should be motivating us – all of us, in or out of HR – to think better about our workforce. Our organization’s workforce and our nation’s workforce.

Mal-employment might be the least of our worries in 2020.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Education Deficit, Job Creation, Talent pipeline

The Hidden Job Market is Alive and Well — and That’s Not Good News!

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Last week I wrote about matching the number of job openings to the number of unemployed people by industry. The numbers were arresting. I used data from the Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz.

In that post, Unemployed Workers Still Far Outnumber Job Openings in Every Major Sector, Shierholz provided this graph showing the Job-Seekers ratio from December 2000 through April 2013 based on data from the BLS JOLTS Survey and Current Population Survey:

Not enough jobs to go around June 2013

This is an incredible view of the last 13 years. The Jobs-to-Seekers ratio in December 2000 was 1 to 1.1:  pretty much full employment. The unemployment rate that month was 3.9%, which means that even people who didn’t want to work were working.

As I read the data, though, it looks a little odd:  the CPS (Current Population Survey) and the JOLTS Survey together show that in April while there were 3,737,000 reported job openings, 4,425,000 workers were hired and 4,279,000 workers were separated for a net employment increase of 146,000. Which means that  688,000 more workers were hired than there were job openings. Even if these April hires were from the March job openings (3,875,000), there were still 550,000 more hires than openings.

So the hidden job market must be alive and well if we’re hiring more than half-a-million more workers than there are reported openings. Think about that. And think about the reported skills shortages. And think about the difference between structural and cyclical unemployment (which I wrote about here).

The reason our unemployment rate continues to stay at an unacceptable and economy-stopping 7%+ may not be so related to the lack of new job creation – we appear to be filling more than the reported number of job openings every month! – but to the scarcity of specific skills and talent. So maybe the skills gap is real and the 9,000,000+ workers who are unemployed will stay that way until they acquire new skills or further lower their job targets.

Either way, that’s not good news for employers with openings they can’t fill, workers who can’t find jobs for the skills they have, or our economy which can’t get out of 2nd gear.

The hidden job market is very much alive. Too bad that’s not good news.

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Hidden Job Market, HR Data, Job Creation, Structural Unemployment, Unemployment Rate

Forget the Skills Deficit: How About Filling Open Jobs?

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So the unemployment rate went up a little in May, from 7.5% to 7.6%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics deems this increase as “essentially unchanged.” Despite 175,000 more people working. How does this math work?

I’ve written about the how the unemployment rate in the U.S. is determined here and here. But here’s another slice of data to consider. It’s the number of job openings. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) published each month alongside the unemployment numbers, shares really interesting data each month. Along with the data about quits and hires, are data about job openings. Fascinating. Really.

JOLTS June 2013

So, although there were 3,757,000 job openings in April (down 118,000 from March, or “little changed” as the BLS describes it) the difference between hires and total separations was just 146,000 month over month. So on the surface, a net of 175,000 new jobs is curious.

More curious is matching the number of job openings to the number of unemployed people by industry. Economist Heidi Shierholz published a piece for the Economic Policy Institute last week that shows in stark relief that unemployed workers still significantly outnumber job openings in every major sector.  Based on analysis of the JOLTS and other data, the following chart is a snapshot of current job openings numbers by industry and the numbers of unemployed workers in those industries. It’s rather eye popping and raises lots of questions.

Unemployed far outstrips available jobs June 2013

Ouch! So think about this data when you read about employers not being able to find the right skills for their openings. Is it really skills they can’t find? Or something else? How hard are they looking? What BFOQs are they using that overlook millions of job seekers?

Curious, yes?

There are so many data points around employment, job openings, quits, hires, workers, unemployed workers, discouraged job seekers, skills, education levels, education spending… The data points come from bonafide sources (like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and  the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce), quasi bonafide sources with bias (like the Economic Policy Institute, SHRM, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AARP), vendor sponsored research and white papers, and millions of blogs and other media sources.

Lots of sources. Lots of data points. Lots of analysis. Lots of conflicting findings and conclusions.

The best we can do is be pro-active in finding sources that are transparent about their data and analysts who seem unbiased. And then be persistent in looking at all sides of an issue and smart in believing what you read.

On the issues of skills, jobs and unemployment, though, it seems that we don’t know what we’re doing. We may not even really know what the truth is. Except this:  we’ve got to do better at matching job openings with available talent. It’s clear that we haven’t figured this out. Not government, not business/employers, not education providers, not workers, not vendors, not recruiters.

Forget the skills deficit. What about filling the open the jobs?

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Economic Policy Institute, Employment Data, HR Data, Job Creation, SHRM, Skills Shortage, Structural Unemployment, U.S. Department of Labor, Unemployment

Data Point #4: Cyclical vs. Structural Unemployment

The U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics is a gold mine of information.  It crunches massive amounts of data having to do with labor and the economy, and is prolific in providing projections for the future.  (See previous posts here and here.)

An interesting monthly publication put out by the BLS is the Monthly Labor Review.  The January edition included an Overview of projections to 2020 based on its Employment Outlook 2010-2020.  The overview contains a review of the underlying data behind all of the BLS’s projections.  Labor force participation by demographic, the connection between GDP and productivity, job growth by sector/industry, job growth by occupation, job growth by education level – all are included in this overview.

What I found most interesting was a graph and brief discussion comparing the most recent recession and the resulting time to labor market recovery to the previous four recessions.  Take a look at the graph.

We all know that the effects of the 2007-2009 recession are still being felt.  In fact, the graph shows that we are a long way from reaching “recovery to level at start of recession” — some 30 months out from the official end of the recession.  No surprise, but perhaps the combination of the length of the recovery together with the continued gap between where we are and the “recovery to level at start of recession” is noteworthy.  Also of note:  this overview reports that the BLS sets the “natural rate of unemployment” at 5.2%.  We’re still a long way from the recovery to level at start of recession rate — and a much longer way from the natural rate some 40 months from the official start of the recession.

The real question is, why is this recovery taking so long compared to the previous recoveries shown in the graph?  Labor market analysts discuss the cyclical vs. structural causes that continue to depress hiring and job creation.  Cyclical unemployment occurs when workers are laid off because of weak demand, but who expect to be re-hired when demand picks up – usually by the same organization, and usually in the same occupation or industry.

Structural changes in the economy also create job loss – our most recent recession proved that unequivocally.  Structural unemployment could also be caused by weak demand, but is fundamentally caused by other dynamics that impede workers’ abilities to return to work when demand picks up.  For example, new technology and resulting productivity gains may reduce the need to rehire workers with less current skills and may reduce the number of workers needed even after recovery.   As time goes on, the skills deficit of the structurally unemployed gets bigger and so they may well experience longer periods of unemployment.  Retraining in new occupations will be required for these workers in many cases.  Sound familiar?

As HR and talent management professionals take into account the impact of both cyclical and structural unemployment in their locations and industries, their approach to creating a robust talent pipeline will be far more realistic and attainable if they focus on causes of structural unemployment.  Just as employers are having difficulty finding the skills they need, the structurally unemployed are having difficulty finding new homes for their outdated skills.

Surely the answer is obvious to more than me.

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cyclical Unemployment, Employment Data, Job Creation, Monthly Labor Review, Structural Unemployment, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor, Uncategorized, Unemployment

AT&T, JAG and the Talent Deficit

In my post yesterday, I suggested that employers will need to start making strategic partnerships with education institutions and economic development organizations, among others, to start dealing with the upcoming acute shortage of workers who have graduated from high school and have some college under their belt.

A great example of this came to my attention yesterday.  On Monday AT&T announced an investment of $250,000,000 over the next five years to improve high school graduation rates.  Here’s how their announcement began:  “ As access to skilled workers becomes increasingly vital to the U.S. economy, AT&T is launching a quarter-billion-dollar campaign to help more students graduate from high school ready for careers and college, and to ensure the country is better prepared to meet global competition.”

Investing in JAG – Jobs for America’s Graduates – is an example of strategic corporate investment in the future of the talent pipeline.  JAG, the most effective program of its kind – is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.  In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.  The kids in the AT&T Aspire video are great examples of JAG at work in the trenches.

Who wouldn’t hire those kids?

I ended my Data Point Tuesday post yesterday with this imperative:  “The sooner talent acquisition professionals and learning/development professionals in organizations begin to work together on workforce planning and tackling the education deficit, the sooner the talent pipeline will begin to be prepared for 46 million new jobs.”

Looks like AT&T is out in front.  Again!

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Filed under Aspire, AT&T, China Gorman, Education Deficit, High School Graduation Rates, JAG, Job Creation, Talent pipeline, Uncategorized

Data Point #3: The U.S. Education Deficit and 46.8 Million New Jobs

Many business leaders and most talent management professionals know that the demographic shifts that are happening now and are projected to happen in the next several years will impact every organization’s ability to meet its business goals.  On top of demographic trends,  education trends are also going in the wrong direction.  Between 1997 and 2009 the U.S. position as a world leader in education has slipped from 4th to 11th, as an example.

According to Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018, a report published by Georgetown University, the U.S. economy will create 46.8 million openings by 2018 – 13.8 million brand new jobs and 33 million “replacement” jobs,” positions vacated by workers who have retired or permanently left their occupation by 2018.

Good news for the economy and the working population of the U.S., right?  Well, maybe.

Let’s peel back just one layer of the onion and look at what these new and replacement jobs will require.  According to the Georgetown report, nearly 63% of these jobs will require workers with at least some college education.

This data projects that one-third of the new jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree or better and nearly 30% will require a two-year Associate’s degree or some college.  Only 36% will require a high school diploma or less – and that percentage of all jobs continues to decline.

Here’s the challenge for employers, according to the Georgetown report:  by 2018 the U.S. post-secondary education system will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than required by the labor market.  And what if the economy recovers faster than expected with greater job growth and greater Baby Boomer retirements?  The delta gets even bigger.

Here’s where talent management professionals should be thinking creatively and strategically.

If the working population will not be educated enough for these 46 million new jobs, employers will have to be focused on educating them.

But how to begin?  Individual employers, groups of employers (aligned geographically or by industry) will have to have a multi-faceted approach, but the cost effective bet is starting with their existing workforce.  Organizations are going to have to educate their own workers and look to current best practice (tuition reimbursement programs, for examples) as well as innovate new approaches.

Strategic partnerships between employers and education institutions are beginning to create new education paradigms.  But that won’t be enough.  Other stakeholders will need to begin their involvement in educating the workforce:  local and regional economic development organizations, local workforce boards, state departments of labor and education, professional associations, labor unions – all will begin to partner with employers to deliver the educated talent they need.  Talent management leaders should be out in front on this issue, defining the skills outcomes required.

It’s clear that demand will outstrip supply in almost all occupational categories soon.  The sooner talent acquisition professionals and learning/development professionals in organizations begin to work together on workforce planning and tackling the education deficit, the sooner the talent pipeline will begin to be prepared for 46 million new jobs.

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Filed under CAEL, Education Deficit, Job Creation, Post-secondary education, Talent pipeline, Tuition Reimbursement, Uncategorized