Despite Unemployment, Companies Desperate for Qualified Workers

Posted by - Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

The U.S. unemployment rate, though still high, is down from 9.2% to 9.1%.

That still means around 13.9 million Americans are looking for jobs and unable to find them.

But at the same time, employers are hard-pressed to fill positions.

According to Bloomberg, many factors are contributing to the high number of still-empty jobs and the struggling employers.

The article names Bill Begal, founder of Begal Enterprises Inc, a disaster cleanup company, as one of these employers.

As Mr. Begal told Bloomberg, he has spent over $2,000 in the past five months in advertising the positions he needs to fill, even minimizing the position requirements as time passes.

And Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) is looking just as hard for qualified employees.

That’s the kicker: qualification.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that 40% of people have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.

As Bloomberg indicates, this has caused one of the biggest problems. People who have been unemployed for this long have seen their skills start to atrophy.

Half a year without putting practiced skills to use has resulted in decreasing qualification for positions that these 13.9 million unemployed may otherwise begin to fill.

It is the prolonged state of economic deceleration that is to blame.

And it becomes a vicious cycle, as some are so desperate for employment that they use what Bloomberg calls the “dart approach”.  Prospective employees send out numerous applications and resumes while failing to tailor them to the positions.

As the article states, there is also the problem of a general lack of people with the desired skills.

Some companies try to account for this by initiating programs to train young people such as high school graduates to fill the positions later. ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT) is one of these companies.

But even more threatening is what NYU professor Nouriel Roubini believes about the drop in the unemployment rate.

According to him, the economy has not been stimulated enough for this 0.1% decline to occur.

His belief is that it is instead a result of people giving up. Less people have been counted as unemployed perhaps because more people have stopped caring and stopped searching for jobs.

If this is the case, it certainly creates a bleak outlook for the future of the U.S. economy.

“The more this drags on, the more concerned we should all be getting that a lot of human capital is being lost and therefore more structural problems are developing,” Fed Bank of Chicago research director Daniel Aaronson told Bloomberg.

And as it continues to drag, U.S. human capital will continue to erode.

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