The Commission on Workforce Development this month released an update to its 2007 State of the Workforce report in light of the tremendous changes that have occurred in the economy and the labor market over the past nearly four years. The 2011 State of the Workforce report, however, misses the key challenge facing North Carolina workers: there aren’t enough jobs for those who want to work now and who will seek work in the near future.
North Carolina is facing a jobs deficit of nearly 480,000 reflecting both the jobs that have been lost since the Great Recession and the jobs that would be needed to keep pace with growth in the state’s population. Researchers from the International Monetary Fund and the Economic Policy Institute have demonstrated through analysis of labor market trends that unemployment is primarily cyclical, that is driven by the drop in demand for goods and services and decline in business investment.
It is not, as the State of the Workforce report, would have you believe a primarily structural problem, driven by the mismatch between the skills and jobs available. Skills training and post-secondary degrees will likely be increasingly necessary down the road to guarantee a living income and some type of middle-class status. And increasingly will require greater investment in the systems–the community college system and others– that deliver affordable skills training and education to the workforce. But immediately, North Carolina’s workers need more jobs in the economy.