Nationally, President Obama is focusing on “the jobs issue”. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is also focused on jobs. What is being seen both nationally and within Minnesota is a persistent issue of high unemployment filings while thousands of jobs go unfilled.
President Obama and Governor Dayton are focusing primarily on one side of the problem — the need to retrain eager workers for all of those unfilled positions.
According to Baird Helgeson (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/30/11) “Some staffing professionals say the problem is more complex. Along with a lack of suitable employees, they say a segment of Minnesota’s 205,000 unemployed don’t want to work.”
This also applies nationally.
Helgeson quotes Tyler Wirth, a consultant with the Work Connection, a St. Paul staffing agency who said that “There’s a pretty clear line in the sand right now…On one side it seems that those who truly want to work are actually working. The other side is a mish-mash of those with skills that don’t match what employers desire, those who are enjoying their unemployment check, or those who think they are worth more.”
According to Helgeson, “In Minnesota (alone), businesses have about 54,000 jobs available, according to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. The median wage for jobs offered is about $10 an hour. But there are thousands of managerial, computer and health care jobs that would pay up to $35 an hour.
“The state’s political leaders have a lot at stake in filling those positions and creating more. With more people working and paying taxes, there’s less chance of chronic budget deficits.”
Of course, the same is true for the nation as a whole.
“The two statistics many Minnesota business and civic leaders are wrestling with is that 42 percent of the open jobs require post-secondary schooling, and 31 percent require some form of occupational license.
“Still, some wonder what took so long for…government leaders to fully grasp the complexity and causes of the problems. They aren’t convinced that political leaders are targeting what they see as the core problems: economic and political uncertainty.
“I would have expected a greater understanding of the issues given the duration of this crisis,” said Marshall MacKay, president of Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota.”
In my opinion, there are several issues here. First of all, employers are not going to increase hiring dramatically until they have a sense of certainty about future expenses. That involves concerns about health care expenses and taxes.
Secondly, people are not in a position to “retool” (i.e., gain additional training) until they know there will be a pay-off for doing so. Spending what could be thousands of dollars for additional education is risky at best in this political and economic climate.
Thirdly, the government, in its infinite wisdom has made unemployment quite desirable for many. Why work if you can collect unemployment insurance for many months?
Finally, the egocentrism that has been promulgated in America over the past generation has led many to believe that they deserve something. Many believe that they are so wonderful that they want to start at the top of the pyramid and not at the bottom. I personally know some of those people who believe that if they can’t start as a Vice President or CEO they won’t take the job.
President Obama, Governor Dayton, and the Democrat Party have done a great deal to create much of this problem. By promoting economic and political uncertainty for both employers and potential employees, and by increasing entitlements at both the government and individual levels, they have done nothing to solve the problem.
In fact, entitlement almost always makes any problem worse.