Some notes on the "Jobs Crisis"

I have made many of these points previously, but it is good to see Nina Easton make them in her piece at Fortune.

• Getting the unemployed re-employed isn't just about economic growth. There are now 6.2 million Americans (more than 44% of the unemployed) who have been out of work for more than a year -- and are dead last on any list of employers seeking to fill positions. These are people whose skills have rusted in a fast-paced global economy, along with twentysomethings who haven't even developed the habit of work. We risk losing a generation of men and women who won't be able find meaningful employment ever again.
• Washington spends more than $18 billion a year on 47 different training programs -- spread across nine agencies. What has all that bureaucracy and money bought? Employers who complain that they can't find qualified workers -- even in this market (one out of three employers, according to a recent McKinsey Global Institute survey). As many as 3 million jobs in this country are sitting unfilled. There is a sharp disconnect between the skills employers need and what unemployed workers have to offer -- and business isn't doing nearly enough to provide training to close that gap. As Nicholas Pinchuk, CEO of Snap-On Inc., aptly put it at a recent jobs forum, "Business has to enter that fray and define it."
• Safety nets, built to protect people in trouble, are actually contributing to their long-term unemployment -- and thereby hurting their job prospects. A study by the Chicago Fed suggests people go back to work -- and unemployment drops -- when unemployment insurance is set to run out. In fact, some studies indicate that a full percentage point of today's jobless rate can be attributed to folks who are taking advantage of benefits that enable them to collect checks for nearly two years. The Social Security disability program -- intended for the chronically ill -- is morphing into a new form of welfare dependency discouraging nonelderly adults from finding jobs.
• This isn't 1982, when unemployment topped out at 10.8% -- a bit higher than the Great Recession's October 2009 peak. There is no "Morning in America" on the horizon. All signs point to a continued struggle for people who don't have jobs for long periods of time -- leaving a deeper, more indelible mark on our nation's psyche. Recent studies show that U.S. companies will actually face a talent shortage in 10 years, even as growing numbers of teens drop out of school and millions of once-talented adults fall idle. . . .



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