Even in a time of 8% unemployment, some jobs go begging. Surveys reveal a significant share of companies report difficulties filling certain jobs.
What’s a company to do when it can’t find workers with needed skills? Work its current employees for longer hours. That’s the conclusion by economists at the Conference Board. The trend suggests a further split in consumer confidence about the labor markets: offering job security to some while most workers still worry about layoffs.
The board analysts–Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research, and Ben Cheng, an economic researcher–wanted to gauge whether a talent shortage exists in the U.S. They first looked at unemployment rates to identify pockets of tight labor markets. But in all the occupations studied, the current jobless rates were above where they were before the recession.
Mr. Levanon and Mr. Cheng next considered pay scales. After all, in-demand workers should be able to command higher incomes. But the economists point out it can take several years for average wages to rise in occupations with talent shortages because higher compensation can sometimes be determined by merit, seniority and location rather than labor-market conditions.
Then, the pair turned to weekly hours. “As employers experience talent shortages they are likely to shift the workload to existing workers,” they write.
The economists compared the average workweek from 2005-2007 with that in the year ended in April 2012. On average, all occupations experienced a 1.4% drop in the length of the workweek.
Some jobs, however, experienced significant increases in hours worked. Those include oil- and gas-extraction workers, communications-equipment operators and science- and math-related occupations.
The results correspond with other surveys showing businesses’ growing demand for workers well versed in the STEM skills: science, technology, engineering and math…