To an economist, the most accessible and persuasive evidence demonstrating a skills shortage should be found in wage data. If employers urgently need workers with skills in short supply, we expect them to offer higher pay to prospective new employees who possess the skills. When workers with crucial skills are offered better wages by expanding employers, they are in a strong position to demand better pay from their current employers, even if their own employer is not expanding. Current employers must match the wage offers of growing employers or risk losing their key employees.
Where is the evidence of soaring pay for workers whose skills are in short supply? We frequently read anecdotal reports informing us some employers find it tough to fill job openings. What is harder to find is support for the skills mismatch hypothesis in the wage data. Last week the BLS released its quarterly report on the pay of full-time wage and salary workers. The median full-time worker earned $782 a week in spring 2014. That wage was $6, or 0.8%, more than the median earnings received by workers one year ago. While other wage series show modestly faster gains in pay, there is little evidence wages or compensation are increasing much faster than 2% a year. Even though unemployment has declined, there are still 2.5 times as many active job seekers as there are job vacancies. At the same time, there are between 3 and 3½ million potential workers outside the labor force who would become job seekers if they believed it were easier to find a job. The excess of job seekers over job openings continues to limit wage gains, notwithstanding the complaints of businesses that cannot fill vacancies.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Unemployment and the “Skills Mismatch” Story: Overblown and Unpersuasive | Brookings Institution.
Something happened in 2008: the Beveridge Curve shifted to the right and stayed that way. That means employers aren’t hiring as many unemployed people as they should be, according to a pre-2008 view of the world. It is also one of the reasons the economy feels like it is still bad, even though the recession … Continue reading
The Skills Gap in US – Mismatch across industries and occupations explains at most one-third of the total observed increase in the unemployment rate
Aysegul Sahin, Joseph Song, Giorgio Topa and Giovanni L. Violante develop a framework where mismatch between vacancies and job seekers across sectors translates into higher unemployment by lowering the aggregate job-finding rate in Mismatch Unemployment (Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports ). They use this framework to measure the contribution of mismatch to the recent rise … Continue reading
Mismatch increased during the Great Recession. Mismatch can account for at most 2.72 percentage points of the 5.30-percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate from the beginning of the recession to the unemployment rate peak. Continue reading
US unemployment seems stuck at an unusually high level of 8%, prompting some to suggest a widespread skills mismatch. This column argues that a skills mismatch is not supported by the evidence. Rather, out of the possible explanations, it seems that any shift in the ratio between unemployment and vacancies is driven by either lower … Continue reading
Mismatch across industries and occupations explains at most one-third of the total observed increase in the unemployment rate reveals a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Study
“We develop a framework where mismatch between vacancies and job seekers across sectors translates into higher unemployment by lowering the aggregate job-finding rate” write Aysegul Sahin, Joseph Song, Giorgio Topa, and Giovanni L. Violante in Mismatch Unemployment on newyorkfed.org. How much did mismatch contribute to the dynamics of U.S. unemployment around the Great Recession? To address this question, we … Continue reading