Where Are the Skilled Workers? — Part 4

New data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics can help you find available talent with solid transferable skills. What does the report tell us?

Highlights of the Occupational Projections

The occupational projections cover 818 different occupational titles. If you are seeking talent to fill open positions, you should be interested in two pieces of information about these occupations—growth (or decline) and replacement needs.

Occupational Growth

Fast-growing occupations face stiff competition for talent. On the other hand, declining occupations may be a source of skilled workers with transferable skills.

Replacement Needs

Replacement data reflect the need to fill positions due to employee turnover, when a worker changes occupations or leaves the workforce. High replacement numbers tend to ease the effect of occupational decline. For example, postal service mail carriers is the occupation with the second highest decline, 79,200 jobs. However, the need for 102,700 replacement workers makes it an occupation for which we can expect to see continued recruitment.

Job Title SOC Code Decline, 2012–2022 (Thousands) Replacement Needs, 2012–2022 (Thousands)
Sewing machine operators 51-6031 -41.7 7.7
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers 11-9013 -179.9 150.2
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators 43-5053 -38.6 9.4
Data entry keyers 43-9021 -54.2 26.3
Word processors and typists 43-9022 -26.2 3.7
Postal service clerks 43-5051 -21.3 10.2
Computer operators 43-9011 -12.7 7.2
Door-to-door sales workers, news and street vendors, and related workers 41-9091 -14.2 9.3
Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic 51-4072 -19.2 15.1
Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders 51-6063 -5.4 3.5
Fallers 45-4021 -2.9 1
Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders 51-6062 -4.2 2.5
Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders 51-6064 -5.6 4.4
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks 43-4181 -19.5 18.5
Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders 51-6061 -2.7 1.8

Key Strategies for Talent Acquisition

If you are having difficulty finding workers with the exact skill set that you need, you should consider recruiting workers who are leaving declining occupations. Some of them are good candidates because they have experience in your industry. Others have both the “soft skills” that you are seeking and the aptitude to learn the job.

The down side to this strategy is that the biggest declines in job numbers tend to be concentrated in relatively low-tech functions in just a few job families. So you will not find a large variety of these workers, and you will have to teach them the technical side of your business.

Here is a table that shows recruiting needs that are most likely to be filled by this strategy.

Recruiting Need


Health Care Occupations are among those with the most projected job growth.
Recruit from declining occupations for which customer service skills are common. Examples include door-to-door sales workers, ticket agents, and travel clerks.
There are large numbers of job openings projected for accounting and secretarial jobs—particularly medical secretaries.
Try recruiting from declining occupations for which data management skills are important. Examples include any of the six entries on the declining occupations table (above) whose SOC code starts with the “43” prefix.
Due to the aging of the workforce in the skilled trades, there is a significant need for replacement workers.
You might have success with workers from any of the “hands-on” jobs that are in decline. Examples include farming and production occupations.
According to the Manufacturing Institute, as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs are going unfilled. The growth is largely in Advanced Manufacturing.
Six of the entries on the declining occupations table (above) are production job titles. Individuals with experience in these jobs already have basic manufacturing industry knowledge. Many of them would be good candidates for Advanced Manufacturing jobs.

If you missed the first three articles in this series, click here to access the other blogs, which include three additional recruiting strategies for businesses.


Job Projections to 2022 Troubling

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their Occupational Employment Projections, 2012–2022, today. Here is my initial reaction. I try to be optimistic about economic data—and still believe that there are tremendous career opportunities for job seekers who understand where they fit in the labor market—but I am disappointed by these numbers.

Comparing the new projections to the old ones (2010–2020), we are seeing a significant decline in projected growth. According to the old forecast, we were to see 164 million jobs in 2020. The new projection calls for only 161 million jobs two whole years later. That is about 2.5 million jobs too few for the projected size of the labor force. Although that is much better than the difference between workers and jobs of nearly 10 million in 2012, wouldn’t it be better if there was a job for every worker?

The outlook for 19 of the 22 major job families has been downgraded with the largest downward revisions in Office & Administrative Support and Sales & Related Occupations. The bright spot in the revisions is in Management Occupations, for which end-year (2022) employment has been adjusted upward by 20,800 (3.4%).

My understanding (from a non-economist’s point of view) of the reason for the changes is that the economy in general is recovering from the Great Recession far more slowly than expected. Thus forecasted job growth has been revised downward.

6 Fastest-Growing Occupations for the New Year: Don’t Believe Them!

Tomorrow (Thursday, 12/19/13) the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release their Employment Projections for 2012–2022. Then you will see the writers begin to write about the hottest, best, or fastest-growing occupations for the next decade. Among the jobs that are hyped, you will see some really bad choices. Perhaps the list will include biomedical engineers with a 50+ percent growth rate. (No, I do not have an advance copy of the new projections; I am just guessing based on the old projections).

Why They May Be Bad Job Choices

Over the weekend a friend of mine told his teenage son that he would double his allowance if he would shovel the snow from the driveway. Why did his son refuse the offer? The dad does not even give him an allowance, and the young man realized that two times zero is still zero.

The same is true of some of the “fast-growing” occupations. If you take an occupation with a very small number of job openings and increase it by 50%, you are still going to end up with a very small number of openings. The 2010–2020 projections showed an annual average of 1,310 openings for biomedical engineers. That may seem like a large number, but when you divide it among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, it is far from being a “hot” job. For example, New York State’s share of the annual openings is only 30.

When a Decline Is Better Than an Increase

You would actually be better off pursuing a career as a postal service worker. With a double-digit decline, no one is going to place postal workers on their list of best jobs. However, the projections to 2020 showed an average of 12,630 yearly openings—nearly 10 times as many as biomedical engineers.

So when you see those articles about the fastest-growing occupations for the New Year, make sure that the writers are not trying to sell you on two times zero.

Image above from publicdomainpictures.net

Where Are the Skilled Workers? — Part 3

The Six Groups That You Should Actively Recruit

Diversity is no longer just a government requirement—it is a key recruiting strategy.  Here are some reasons why.  According to Current Population Survey data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), participation in the US labor force peaked in 2000 and has been declining ever since. The Labor Force Participation Rate experienced a sharp drop from 66% before the Great Recession to 63.7% in 2012 and is not projected to rebound any time soon. That means fewer working-age candidates for businesses to hire.

Labor Force Participation Rate

Why the Decline?

Simply put, the workforce is getting older. In 2010 there were 15.8 million workers aged 55 and over, according to BLS data. There are enough Millennials to replace the aging Baby Boomers who are about to retire. But will they be capable of doing the job?

The question of work experience aside, we have reason to be concerned about the large numbers of young people lacking basic skills. According to a recent report from the OECD, one-third of low-skilled individuals in the US are aged less than 35. So businesses will need a recruiting strategy that centers on finding skilled candidates within the major groups of available workers.

The Six Groups

1. Younger Workers—particularly the two-thirds of them that are not lacking in basic skills. You will need them to replace the retiring Baby Boomers.

2. Older Workers. If you cannot keep them on full time, can you bring them back part time or as consultants? The 55-and-older group is the only age demographic whose Labor Force Participation Rate increased in the last decade. So they just may be willing to stay on with you.

3. Women. According to the OECD report referenced above, two-thirds of younger (16–24), low-skilled individuals are men. So young women are more likely to have higher basic skills levels than their male counterparts. They may also be interested in the often higher-paying non-traditional occupations for women.

4. Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Labor Force numbers for white, non-Hispanic men have remained flat since 2000. In contrast, we have seen increases for every other group. Of particular note are the participation rates (2010) for Black or African-American women (59.9%, higher than any other group of women) and Hispanic or Latino men (77.8%, the highest of any racial/ethnic subgroup).

5. Individuals With Disabilities. Labor Force Participation for workers with disabilities is only around 20%. And among the other 80% many of them do want to work. That is evidenced by the Unemployment Rate for individuals with disabilities, which is about six points higher than the rate for people with no disability.

6. Veterans. Labor Force Participation for Veterans is about 51%, well below the rate for the general population. So if you actively recruit Veterans, you are likely to find workers with some solid, transferable skills.

Speaking of transferable skills, look out for the final article in this series, which will discuss the benefits of recruiting workers with skills in declining occupations. Click here for a link to the previous article.

Image at top from publicdomainpictures.net.

Where Are the Skilled Workers? — Part 2

Are They Even in the Workforce?

My last article, “Where Are the Skilled Workers,” focused on individuals who have been laid off or fired. Are there other workers who might be good candidates to fill all of those open jobs?

Let’s consider a couple of large groups of workers. First, in November the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported about 4 million long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more). The other group is even larger—over 7.5 million part-time workers who want to work full time.

Here is some information about the hiring potential of both groups.

1. Part-time workers are your best bet.

  • Largest group of un/underemployed workers
  • Skills are more likely to be up-to-date
  • Most likely to have the “soft” skills that you are looking for (after all, someone saw fit to hire them—if only part time)
  • Have demonstrated that they really want to work
  • Some of them may already be on your payroll

LTU Graph

2. The long-term unemployed may not be available much longer. According to BLS data, the number of workers unemployed 27 weeks or more peaked at just over 7 million in 2010. That number has been steadily declining ever since.

  • The numbers of discouraged workers and others who are available but no longer actively searching for work have also been declining. That trend suggests that many of the long-term unemployed have been going back to work.
  • Many of the long-term unemployed have the “soft” skills that you are looking for (otherwise they would not have been in the labor force to begin with).
  • They may also have transferable skills that make them good candidates for some on-the-job training.

Check back soon for the next article in the series: Workplace Diversity Is No Longer Just a Government Requirement—It Is a Key Recruiting Strategy

Where Are the Skilled Workers?

Hires and Layoffs

They may be among the nearly 2 million workers who were either laid off or fired in September. According to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20 million people are involuntarily terminated each year. Many of these workers have valuable skills and experience, and more importantly, they want to work.

So why don’t businesses just hire them? Perhaps the workers are not available when and where the job openings occur. Maybe they do not have the exact skill set needed by employers. Could it be that some job seekers do not want the jobs that are available to them?

Here are two interesting trends that a business might be able to work to its advantage.

1. Layoffs follow predictable, seasonal cycles. Involuntary separations tend to peak in December and January each year. In contrast, hiring tends to drop to its lowest level in the November–February period.

Strategy: Hire new employees during the December–February timeframe. You will have both the largest pool of available, experienced workers and the least competition for them. If your company typically lays off workers during this period, could you use the time to strategically retain and train your most valuable employees?

Month Construction layoffs & discharges Manufacturing layoffs & discharges Trade, Transp, and Utilities Information layoffs & discharges Financial layoffs & discharges Prof and Bus Svcs layoffs & discharges Education and Health Services


           165,000               108,000            218,000              33,000              84,000            431,000            166,000

 2. Layoff patterns vary by industry. The highest numbers of involuntary discharges happen in the Professional and Business Services sector. On the other hand, layoffs are relatively low in the Information and Financial sectors. Furthermore, some industries have seasonal layoff patterns—either during the summer or winter months.

Strategy: Recruit new employees from other industries. If you need to hire for an occupation that is common across industry sectors, such as an accounting clerk or a salesperson, why not hire from an industry that is experiencing layoffs? For entry-level positions, you do not even need to recruit someone with experience in the same occupation, so long as they have the transferable skills that you seek. For mid-career level positions, could you create a career ladder within the company?

The current job market is frustrating for both businesses and job seekers. But gaining an understanding of labor market trends could give you a competitive advantage.

How Much Does a Job Pay in Rochester, NY?

A recent Fox Business article (http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/11/08/where-are-all-middle-wage-jobs/) raised a concern about growing inequality between people with high-wage jobs and those with low-wage jobs. In Rochester, NY we have lost thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs in recent years. So we too have reason to wonder, “Where are the middle-wage jobs?”

The CareerBuilder & EMSI Occupational Projections report defines a middle (or medium) wage job as one that pays between $13.84 and $21.13 per hour on average.

The good news locally is that many of those middle-wage jobs are right here at home. An analysis of 73 of the top jobs in the Rochester, NY area reveals that 33% of them fall in the middle wage range. In fact Rochester scored far better than the national average on the Gini index, a major measure of income equality.