Tag Archives: economic forecast

Beverage vs. Adler

Lou Adler offers an interesting perspective on the Labor Department’s job openings numbers in his post “The Feb 11 JOLTS Report Predicts…” I am really glad that he discussed the JOLTS numbers. It is important to look beyond the two pieces of data—the official Unemployment Rate and the monthly jobs report—on which the media fixate.

There is a trend that comes out of the job openings numbers that you should be aware of: The Beveridge curve. (Okay, I admit that I intentionally misspelled it beverage in the post title so that I could use the soft drink image). The Beveridge curve takes the job openings rate and compares it to the Unemployment rate. As the job openings rate goes up or down, so does the Unemployment rate.

Here is why you should be especially concerned about the relationship between job openings and Unemployment today. In 2010 the Beveridge curve shifted up and to the right where it has stayed through the end of 2013. That has been evidenced by relatively high Unemployment at a time when there are high numbers of job openings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes this situation as ‘inefficient job matching.’ It is a source of frustration for both businesses and job seekers and a real challenge for workforce professionals.

So, is the coincidence of high numbers of job openings and high Unemployment a cyclical issue that will eventually correct itself? Or is it a reflection of a real lack of skills among workers? We cannot be certain. But anecdotal evidence suggests that businesses should focus on developing the skills of their workers and job seekers should take the initiative to build their own skills.

If the data really interest you, information about the Beveridge curve can be found on pp. 19–23 of this document.

Opening soft drink image is from publicdomainpictures.net.

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.