The Conference Board has released the following statement about the incredibly low unemployment rate the economy is enjoying:
“The US labor market continues to tighten, although job growth in April was 164,000, a little below expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in April, one of the lowest rates in recent history. The broader measure of labor underutilization U-6 declined to 7.8 percent, the lowest rate since 2001.
“The tightening labor market is a result of a simple reality: when the working age population is barely growing, even moderate job growth is enough to significantly tighten the labor market. Based on present data, there is no reason to believe that this trend will stop anytime soon, meaning a much tighter labor market a year from now.
“Despite the tightening labor market, the average hourly earnings measure is not accelerating much, though the more reliable Employment Cost Index, released last week, has been accelerating more visibly, especially among blue collar workers.
“Overall, with solid economic and job growth, a strong labor market, and an inflation rate that is about to surpass the Fed’s target, there is nothing to hold back the Fed from continuing on its present path towards full interest rate normalization.”
In spite of the historically low unemployment, job satisfaction is surprisingly low, with the Association Press reporting that only 45 percent are satisfied with their jobs.
Meanwhile there remains a huge demand for skilled labor made up of individuals who chose not to go to college, but got one of the many high in demand certifications. Many such certifications only take months to obtain, but results in high income. They are also very high in demand.
Traverse City Michigan employers have been discussing this problem.
“Emily Challender, purchasing manager at Hayes Manufacturing in Fife Lake, said it’s been the ‘same problem for the last 20 years’ when it comes to finding enough employees, not to mention those with enough experience.
“’We’re having trouble finding people who have (computer numerical control) CNC experience or skilled manufacturing experience,’ Challender said. ‘Those that have experience already have a job in Traverse City.’
“Ken Hall, general manager at National Vacuum Equipment in Traverse City, is seeing a similar situation at the other end of Grand Traverse County.
“’I’ve given up trying to find qualified machinists,’ Hall said.
The Laurinburg Exchange reports “We are beginning the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with fields in artificial intelligence, machine learning robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, genetics and biotechnology to name a few of the emerging fields. Increased global completion will continue to affect the type of work being done in our home towns and this changing dynamic will fuel the need to continue employee training and retraining into the 21st century. As workforce professionals we are encouraging families to pursue stability during these economic changes by getting skilled, not stuck in the new economy, as technology and globalization open more opportunities, seek opportunities to re-train for a new and or emerging career.
“While these skills are not exhaustive, they lead employees and employers to recognize the changing workplace and the need to re-equip our workforce for the new revolution. One such method utilizing these skills and supported by the Department of Labor and the North Carolina Department of Commerce is the Registered Apprenticeship Program. Apprenticeships are training systems that produce highly skilled workers to meet demands of employers competing in the global market. This proven strategy combines quality training and on-the job training with theoretical and practical classroom instruction to prepare exceptional workers. The process is designed to ensure that working apprentices gain a clear understanding of the job responsibilities.”
It has been two decades since US unemployment has been this low, but the job picture is far from perfect. We live in a time where they are arguing towards curtailing outsourcing, and reducing the migration of foreign skilled workers, while the economy has a significant demand for them. Clearly, something has to give.