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Mark Thoma: No "Noticeable Increase in Mismatches in Recent Years"

Mark Thoma:

Economist's View: No "Noticeable Increase in Mismatches in Recent Years": Here's the conclusion from a summary of a recent FRBSF conference on whether labor market mismatches (structural issues) are holding back employment:

The recent San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank conference on workforce skills examined labor market changes that may have accelerated during the Great Recession. These changes may have increased mismatches between employer needs and worker skills. In general, we find that this doesn’t appear to be the case. Estimates of the extent of skill mismatches in recent years indicate that it has been limited and is likely to dissipate.

Moreover, the conference’s research presentations and a panel of workforce development specialists did not identify a noticeable increase in mismatches in recent years. Thus, concerns about growing skill mismatches may be overblown. On the other hand, successful integration of low-skilled workers into the workforce represents a continuing problem. Conference participants offered useful ideas on how to meet this challenge, stressing the roles of community colleges and well-designed training programs.

The problem is lack of demand.