The Mismatch of Skills between Company Needs and the Unemployed

It is an understatement to say that there is a mismatch of skills between the unemployed and the needs of the companies looking for workers.

There are 2.1 million unemployed workers in occupations with unemployment rates below the natural rate (4.5% to 5.0%). Many of these occupations require a college degree. These occupations account for 31% of total U.S. workers.

There are 4.3 million unemployed workers in occupations with unemployment rates between the natural rate (4.5% to 5.0%) and below the U.S. average. These occupations account for 38% of total U.S. workers.

There are 6.0 million unemployed workers in occupations with unemployment rates above the U.S. average. These occupations account for 31% of total U.S. workers.

The bottom line is there are 10 million workers competing for replacement jobs in their occupations. As well, they are part of the pool who are competing for the handful of jobs in industries where they are not qualified.

It is clear why the unemployment rate has taken so long to return to the “natural rate” and it is easy to prepare the chart that illustrates the challenge.

What is the remedy?


©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Gap between U.S. and Colorado Unemployment Widens

The Colorado economy is a lot like the final two weeks of the 2010 Colorado Rockies baseball season – very ugly.

On a positive note, the word on the street is that both are going to be better in the near term (despite at opening day loss in extra innings).

On March 25, the Colorado Office of Labor Market Information (LMI) announced that the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate had risen to 9.3% in February (the non-seasonally adjusted rate was 9.7%). By comparison, the national seasonally adjusted rate dropped further to 8.9%. Prior to January, the last time Colorado’s rate was higher than the U.S. was September 2005.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for the state’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are:
• Boulder  7.3%
• Fort Collins 7.9%
• Denver 9.4%
• Colorado Springs 10.1%
• Greeley 10.7%
• Grand Junction 11.0%
• Pueblo 11.1%.
These metros areas account for about 86% of the Colorado labor force. A majority of the state MSAs have unemployment at or above 9.4%.

There is more to the story…

Through February, year over year, seasonally adjusted data points to weak employment gains of 13,800 workers.

The areas of net job growth are:
• 11,400  Private education and health care
• 8,200  Tourism
• 8,200  Professional business services
• 2,200  Trade, transportation, and utilities
• 2,100  Oil, gas, and mineral extraction
• 800  Personal services
Employment in these 6 sectors is about 63% of all workers and 57.3% of total wages. The increase is about 32,900 workers.

The areas with continued declines are:
• -8,900 Construction
• -3,900 Financial Activities
• -3,200 Information
• -2,600 Government
• -500 Manufacturing
These 5 sectors have shown losses of 19,100.

It is good news that there is an increase in net jobs; however, there are 3 areas of concern:
• The weak level of net job growth is being driven by a reduction in job losses rather than a significant increase in job gains.
• Many of the jobs that are being added are not primary jobs.
• Many of the jobs being added pay lower wages and have less on an impact on the economy.

So, are we headed for continued improvement and another Roctober or lackluster economic growth and another October watching other teams play in the World Series? A few months from now we will have a much better idea where the economy and Rockies are headed.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Colorado Legislative Council – Outlook for the State Improving

The Colorado Legislative Council (CLC) recently released its quarterly update of the state economy Focus Colorado: Economic and Revenue Forecast. The report was released in mid-March, at a time when it appears that Q1 2011 employment will be approximately 15,000 jobs higher than Q1 2010. It is great to hear that net employment is again trending upward; however, state employment remains below the peak 2001.

Increased employment is good news for the state coffers!

The Q4 2010 forecast pointed to a budget shortfall of $1,015 million. Because Colorado is required to have a balanced budget, it became necessary to significantly reduce spending for K-12 education and other programs.

Over the past year, there has been an increase in consumption and private sector employment that now appears to be sustainable, hence justification for adjusting the revenue forecast  upward. Projections for FY 2010-11 were raised by $116 million, while revenues for the subsequent two years were upped by $99 million and $105 million respectively.

The combination of budget cuts and revenue increases point to a much lower projected shortfall, $450 million, for FY-2011-12. This is good news, but…

Nationally, CLC is calling for real GDP growth of 3.2%, similar to Q4 2010. After three years of net job losses, employment will increase by 0.4% to about 130.3 million jobs. Unfortunately, average annual unemployment for the year will be 8.7%.

At the state level, CLC projects population growth of 1.6% or about 78,000 people. This reflects a reduction in net in-migration to less than 40,000.

Wage and salary employment will post gains of 0.7%, or about 16,000 workers. While this growth is encouraging, it is not enough to significantly lower the rate of unemployment. Unemployment of 8.8% will be slightly higher than the national rate.

Retail sales are projected to record gains of 4.2%; however, inflation (2.3%), will account for more than half of that gain. Retailers will remain challenged to maintain profitability. Finally, single family building permits will be 15,300, slightly higher than in 2010.

The risks to continued growth remain significant. Consumer confidence is fragile and talk about a double-dip has resurfaced. Constraints facing Colorado include a painfully slow housing recovery, rising food and energy prices, and continued concerns about the banking system.

While the picture painted by CLC is certainly not a bright one, it is clearly much more encouraging.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Colorado Unemployment Rate Tops the U.S.

On March 10th, the Colorado Office of Labor Market Information (LMI) announced that the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate reached 9.1% in January. By comparison, the national rate dropped to 9.0%. The last time Colorado’s rate was higher than the U.S. was September 2005.

These results are further indication that the state is lagging the nation in its recovery. Over the past year, the
national rate has declined, while the state rate has increased slightly.

A review of the 64 counties shows that 35 have a rate less than the state (9.9% non-seasonally adjusted). In
several counties with small labor forces there is unemployment of about 20%. In other words, both urban and rural counties have not been spared.

Colorado has 7 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) that cover 17 counties and account for 86% of the labor force. The unemployment rate (non seasonally adjusted) in 9 counties is less than the rate for the state.

A review of unemployment rates by MSA shows that the Denver-Aurora is the same as the state, whereas Boulder-Longmont and Fort Collins-Loveland fall below the state. The remaining four MSAs have rates (Greeley, Pueblo,Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction) above the state.

In addition, Colorado has seven Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MCAs) that cover 8 counties. About 5.5% of the
labor force works in these locales.

Five of the seven MCAs have unemployment lower than the state average (Durango, Edwards, Fort Morgan, Silverthorne, and Sterling). On the other hand, unemployment in Canon City and Montrose is well above the state average.Unemployment in 5 of the 8 counties is below 9.9%. In the remaining 39 rural counties, 21 had unemployment rates lower than 9.9%.

The aggregate rate of unemployment was greatest in the MSAs (9.94%), followed by the MCAs (9.70%), and the rural counties (9.58%). About one-third of the counties have unemployment below 8.0%.

On a more positive note, limited job creation began in the second quarter of 2010. If that growth continues, the state rate is likely to follow the national trend, and decline as the year progresses.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.