Want to work on a railroad or a hospital? Then you might find employers happy to see you. Certain jobs are likely to grow in demand in coming years.
The New York Times published a story Sunday about how a “a dearth of qualified pilots is disrupting, reducing and even eliminating flights.” It’s a situation likely to get worse, particularly considering airlines don’t pay what they once did.
This is not the only occupation facing a severe shortage.
A report today from the Conference Board looks more broadly at the combination of retiring baby boomers, a falling labor participation rate and low labor productivity. It states, “This trend has remained off the radar of most businesses, even though, in our opinion, it is perhaps the most important economic development affecting mature economies.”
From 2010 to 2015, the labor force grew by only 0.4 percent. Non-farm labor productivity increased an average 0.5 percent. The sum of the two, 0.9 percent, contrasts sharply with at least 2 percent growth on average in the years after World War II.
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As a result, the report says, the U.S. will face a shortfall in certain occupations, particularly in health care and skilled trades labor.
Only six states had tight labor markets, with very low unemployment last year, and this is likely to change as low oil prices continue to hit producing states. But over the next decade, many states — including Washington and Oregon — could see tighter than normal labor markets.
This is a report aimed at business leaders. So its recommendations range from passing the cost of higher salaries to recruit workers on to customers, to automation, a shift to contingent workers, a move to high-growth areas, providing incentives to keep older employees, etc. You can download the entire report here.
Notably, it does not recommend backing off the ubiquitous stock buybacks and investing in the innovation and capital that ensure productivity. Raising wages is inadequately framed — for example, boomers are now a minority, so better pay for follow-on generations could go far in addressing the problem.
For the rest of us comes the caveat that it’s notoriously difficult to predict future job demand. (Remember when mainframe techs were the next big thing?) But it appears that certain areas of a wide range of industries do provide opportunity, from pilots and surgeons to plant operators, railroaders and machinists. How many times have you tried to get a good plumber or electrician — wondering why you got this #$%! college degree?
Today’s Econ Haiku:
Nordstrom clears the rack
With ominous local cuts
Will Wall Street buy it?