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Where are the jobs? Information, please


Date published: 1/31/2014

The Department of Labor collects statistics on jobs, salaries, unemployment and other aspects from all 50 states. What is does not do is provide the critical information needed to address the long-term unemployed.

Unemployment began to rise in 2008 and peaked in 2009-2010. It has since slowly gone down, in part due to people leaving the workforce.

Who lost their jobs? What were they paid? Where were the jobs lost, by state? As jobs have begun to recover, what type of jobs and pay were created? More importantly, of those long-term unemployed for more than six months, what are their skills, where do they live and in what states are those jobs available?

The American worker is mobile, but he does not know where to go to find the work that his skills match. Extending long-term unemployment benefits without this knowledge is a failure. The oft-repeated political statement that we need to invest in infrastructure to lower unemployment begs the question: Of the 14 million unemployed today, how many work in construction? Of those, how many are located near infrastructure jobs?

My belief is that Internet shopping, globalization and national debt impact jobs permanently; of the 14 million unemployed, their skills do not match the new economy, but I do not have the facts to support this claim.

It is time for the Department of Labor to "manage" the workforce, provide the data and create incentives for people to move where the work is. Incentives could be paid jointly by employers and the state. If Minnesota has 1 million unemployed and Florida has 1 million jobs in agriculture, let's make a match and employ them.

For a nation run on data, we make very poor use of it for this critical problem.

Terry L. Hurst

Spotsylvania