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Jobless growth is anemic.  The economy is sluggish.  If you are a Republican, it is President Obama’s fault.  Electing Republican leadership will result in great economic gains through tax cuts, spending increases for defense and removal of job killing programs and legislation.  If you are a Democrat, your response is that the President was left with a horrific economic mess that was much worse than anyone realized.  It will take several more years before the economy recovers from the messy explosion of the mortgage debacle and credit bubble.  We need to invest in our future.

The news on Friday that the economy created only 96,000 jobs, well below forecast, followed the predictable partisan path:  the GOP standard bearers said too little too late.  The Democrats pointed to the sustained job growth under the President but said it was not enough and their plan will succeed.  Give it time.

What we did not read or see in the main jobs story last Friday was that there are literally millions of jobs in the US every month that go unfilled because of a dearth of qualified applicants:  electrical engineering, software programming, systems design, scientific research, etc.  Several estimates suggest that the number is close to 3 million vacant/available jobs.

If employers could find the right people, or if people with those specialized skills could relocate, it would take 12 months with job growth of 250,000 to reduce that number.

Impractical.  Not everyone can relocate, not everyone who is out of work is educated or skilled in high demand fields.  Many jobs are in the lower paying service industry, unemployed workers that once earned much more in manufacturing and related fields refuse to consider.  By the way, we lost more manufacturing jobs in August as well. 

In past recessions, even significant recessions, our economy rebounded based on consumer spending.  In the early days following the beginning of the Great Recession, that was not possible given the credit squeeze.  Consumers were tapped out.

The reason that our economy is not rebounding at a faster pace is that it is different this time.  Our problems are structural, and the fact there are 3 million unfilled jobs highlights one of our significant challenges:  the United States has fallen from the lead in education.  We are not turning out graduates who can fill these jobs. 

Until the unemployed, those still looking and those who have given up, get serious about reinventing themselves and their careers with education, job training and probable relocation, our economic doldrums and meager employment gains will not improve. 

Now, we come to the pesky issue of student loans, funding job training, etc.

© 2012 John Gregory Self