In the News, Politics & Policies

Recovery from Covid and Jobs in US – More jobs and more skills needed

Permanently displaced workers now total nearly 4 million and rising, with the heaviest concentration among fairly low-wage workers. Their skill sets and work experience will not immediately lead them to new jobs, and they face the prospect of long periods without work or lower wages than before, even if the overall labor market tightens.

For these reasons, a two-pronged approach would help address these job market challenges. First, we could use a targeted job creation strategy — beyond just broad relief and stimulus — for the workers hit hardest by the current recession and in regions with the most job loss. This strategy could include tax credits for firms with large payroll growth or even public sector employment; but the best approach would be to subsidize jobs in both the private and public sectors.

In the Great Recession, the federal government quickly created about 250,000 subsidized jobs, in an effort that enjoyed broad political support and was widely considered successful. Most jobs went to workers with limited skills and work experience; many jobs would not have been created, and many workers would not have been employed, without the subsidies. A temporary effort to subsidize jobs in this manner would help relieve job market pain quickly and efficiently; but we might also use it afterwards to raise employment among the hardest-to-serve populations (like those with criminal records, substance dependence or disabilities).

Second, we need a skill-building strategy. As the economy recovers, more jobs will require some level of digital as well as technical or social skills. Much job growth will be in particular sectors, like health and elder care, advanced manufacturing, information technology or transportation and logistics; these were growing strongly before the pandemic and have already been bouncing back. Most jobseekers will not have the broad or industry-specific skills to do this work without new job training efforts.

And there will be skill deficiencies in other sectors that will limit opportunities for many workers to get good-paying jobs. As Baby Boomers continue to retire, there will be opportunities to replace them for workers with the right skills. And if Congress passes and the president signs an infrastructure bill later this year, many more workers will need construction skills that most now lack. Workers now employed at low wages in “essential” jobs also deserve an opportunity to gain new skills and the better-paying jobs that might soon be available.

To meet the skills challenges, we need both short- and long-term approaches. We should inject several billion dollars quickly into our nation’s existing workforce programs, as we did in the stimulus bill of 2009-2010. Some should also go to community colleges, to directly finance training programs in the sectors where new demand will be immediate and strongest, and to students with the most need.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Beyond relief and stimulus: More jobs and more skills | TheHill

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