No Signs of a Skill Mismatch in Today’s Jobs Report

In an update to last month’s post, the table below shows the March unemployment rate, the unemployment rate in 2007, and the ratio of the two, for a variety of demographic categories and by occupation and industry. Again we see that while (as per usual) there is considerable variation in unemployment rates across groups, the unemployment rate is substantially higher now than it was before the recession started for all groups. The unemployment rate is between 1.3 and 1.7 times as high now as it was six-plus years ago for all age, education, occupation, industry, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. Elevated unemployment across the board, like we see today, means that the weak labor market is due to employers not seeing demand for their goods and services pick up in a way that would require them to significantly ramp up hiring, not workers lacking the right skills or education for the occupations or industries where jobs are available. This commentary provides a more in-depth look at this issue.

Table 1 Table 1 (continued)

Unemployment rates of various demographic groups, 2007 and today

2007 March 2014 Ratio
All 4.6 6.7 1.5
Male 4.7 6.8 1.4
Female 4.5 6.6 1.5
White 4.1 5.8 1.4
Black 8.3 12.4 1.5
Hispanic 5.6 7.9 1.4
Age 16–24 10.5 14.5 1.4
Age 25–54 3.7 5.7 1.5
Age 55+ 3.1 4.7 1.5
Workers age 25 and older
High school 4.4 6.3 1.4
Bachelor’s and advanced degree 2.0 3.4 1.7
Workers under age 25, not enrolled in further schooling
High school degree 12.0 18.5* 1.5
Bachelor’s and advanced degree 5.4 8.2* 1.5
Occupation
Management, professional, and related occupations 2.1 3.4* 1.6
Service occupations 5.9 8.3* 1.4
Sales and office occupations 4.3 6.9* 1.6
Construction and extraction occupations 7.6 11.6* 1.5
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 3.4 5.2* 1.5
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 5.8 8.7* 1.5
Industry
Construction 7.4 10.5* 1.4
Manufacturing 4.3 6.2* 1.4
Wholesale and retail trade 4.7 7.1* 1.5
Transportation and utilities 3.9 6.4* 1.6
Information 3.6 6.0* 1.7
Financial activities 3.0 4.3* 1.4
Professional and business services 5.3 7.9* 1.5
Education and health services 3.0 4.6* 1.5
Leisure and hospitality 7.4 9.7* 1.3

* This is a 12-month average (April 2013–March 2014), since this series is not seasonally adjusted.

Source: Author's analysis of the Current Population Survey public data series