Monday, November 14, 2016

Rural wages stagnate because of lack of quality jobs, not a lack of skilled workers

Eonomists say the lack of wage growth in jobs, especially in rural areas, "proves the U.S. has a demand problem—not enough good jobs—rather than a supply problem—not enough skilled workers," Sophie Quinton reports for Stateline. While many employers and politicians point to a need for more job training, other problems are low wages, undesirable shifts, qualifications being defined too narrowly, inadequate recruiting, and lack of transportation or childcare for prospective employees.

"The declining unemployment rate has made it more difficult for employers to find workers, but it’s still tougher than it should be given the current jobless rate. Since the recession ended, the number of job openings has increased faster than the number of new hires," Quinton writes from Le Sueur, Minn, pop. 4,000. "Employers across the country, from manufacturers in rural Minnesota to hospitals in New York City, are having trouble filling jobs. It now takes about 28 workdays to fill the average job vacancy, compared to about 24 days, on average, in 2007." (Stateline graphic: Job openings exceed new hires)
For example, "Minnesota manufacturers said two-thirds of all their openings were hard to fill, but that only 14 percent of positions remained open purely because applicants didn’t have the right education and training," Quinton writes. A survey by Utah’s Department of Workforce Services last year found that only 22 percent of employers named low wages as a hiring problem, but 68 percent of those employers were offering below average wages. A survey in Oregon found that half the jobs are difficult to fill because of "unfavorable working conditions or inconsistent work shifts." (Stateline graphic: It now takes longer to hire workers)
Many of the openings require no training beyond a high-school education, Quinton writes. "The idea that all we need to do is train workers is 'fundamentally an evasion of a profound social challenge,' former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said during a panel discussion last year." Summers told Stateline, “Training is very important and indeed necessary. But it is not sufficient to meet either the near-term challenge of assuring demand and preventing recession or the longer-term challenge of the structural loss of jobs for less-skilled workers.”

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