News / Economy

Report Shows Skills Gap Boosts US Unemployment

Job seekers line up to register to attend a job fair held in Atlanta, Georgia, May 30, 2013.
Job seekers line up to register to attend a job fair held in Atlanta, Georgia, May 30, 2013.
— The U.S. unemployment rate is expected to improve slightly when the government releases new data on Friday. Economists tell the Bloomberg financial news service that the jobless rate will probably fall one-tenth of a percent to 7.5 percent, while the economy will have a net gain of 165,000 jobs.  While the U.S. unemployment rate is better than it was during the financial crisis, it is still high in comparison to the average rate over the past couple of decades.

Researchers are seeking reasons for the slow job market recovery.

Economists and others say fast-changing technology and a mis-match between workers' skills and employers' needs get some of the blame for the frustratingly slow recovery in the U.S. job market.  

With that in mind, researchers at the ACT company have been evaluating millions of workers over five years to see if they have key skills employers want -- applied mathematics, reading for information, and finding and analyzing information.

They found that people with more education tended to do better on the tests, but ACT's Hope Clark said higher education did not guarantee high levels of skill.  She said many applicants struggled with tests of their ability to locate information and organize it in ways that are useful in the workplace, such as charts and graphs. 

“If our nation does a better job of understanding the skills and requirements for jobs that are demanded by employers, we can do a much better job of making sure that our existing workforce and our future workforce have those skills that employers are looking for,” said Clark.

ACT is well known for testing prospective college students to see if they are ready for university-level work.

Meantime, some researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say impressive advances in computer technology may be the cause of sluggish employment growth for the past 10 or 15 years.

Past technological surges have destroyed some jobs, changed the nature of work, but eventually created more and often better jobs.

MIT's David Rotman, who monitors the university's research, said studies showed this time may be different with a net loss in the job market.  Computers have been taking jobs in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work, and improved machines and software may expand into law, financial services, education and medicine.

“So one scenario is that machines will increasingly do a very broad range of jobs and tasks, and the pace of technology deployment and progress will continue to accelerate," he said.

Rotman is the editor of MIT's Technology Review, and said some scholars thought the nature of work was changing, with middle class jobs in the post office and customer service, for example, going away, while highly-paid work creating high technology grows, and hard-to-automate low-wage jobs in the service sector expand.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.