By any indicator you’d care to use, the job market still stinks.
Sure, the obvious cause is less-than-impressive economic growth since the financial crisis compared to other recoveries. Digging a little deeper, another problem is the lack of investment by the corporate sector, which is stalling out labor productivity amid, according to the surveys, uncertainty about new government regulations, the future of healthcare, and taxes.
But new research suggests some of the blame goes to the American worker, where a lack of skills has us badly trailing global peers. Decades of abundance and affluence has made us soft. And now, according to the data, the available workforce just isn’t smart enough to turn this thing around.
To understand this issue, you’ve got to understand that despite millions of unemployed Americans, recent data on the labor market from the government’s JOLTS report shows businesses are having a harder time finding qualified workers, are hoarding the ones they have, and are beginning to be forced to pay top dollar for the best workers.
This is happening despite the fact the so-called reserve army of labor now totals nearly 20 million Americans. Of that, 10.3 million are unemployed, and 7.7 million are working part-time for economic reasons. And since the financial crisis, another 12 million have left the labor force altogether.