Tag Archives: employment

Ignore the hype. There are few shortages of skilled workers in America.

Summary: The shortage of STEM workers is a zombie myth too politically useful to die. But here’s data that should kill it. Worse, it implies we might soon see a surplus of highly educated workers, undercutting the more education as a solution to automation story. We’ll need to consider more radical ideas.

“While there are over 500,000 computing jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., only 42,969 computer science students graduated from U.S. universities into the workforce last year.”

— “Computer Science in K-12 Classrooms” by the Computer Science Education Coalition, one of the many lobbying groups funded by corporations to ensure cheap labor. Median wages for people with PhDs in computer science were $121,300 in 2013, down 7% from 2008. There is no shortage, even in this hottest of fields.

Wages show the supply & demand for people with Ph.D.s.
Their wages are falling, so there is no shortage.

Data on PhD holders jobs and salaries, from WSJ

For years corporations and their paid propagandists at think-tanks have bombarded us with news about the shortage of workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which will cripple America in the 21st century. Looking to the future, we’re told growth in these fields would offset some of the massive unemployment from automation.

Oddly, despite the ludicrously high numbers of unfilled jobs reported, wages in these fields have not been rapidly rising (excerpt in a few hot specialties, as it takes time for students to graduate into them). Has the law of supply and demand been repealed? No, since not only is there no shortage, but even Ph.D.s in these fields are in excess supply and seeking employment in other fields, or at jobs in their field not requiring their level of training.

Worse, the data suggests that in the future we might have an oversuppy of highly educated workers (the large surplus of attorneys might be the exemplar of what’s to come).

What we see here is corporations using the news media and government to ensure an ample supply of cheap skilled workers. An entire movement has been built on this fake story.

Here’s the latest of the articles presenting the facts about higher education in the second decade of the 21st century.

Job-Seeking Ph.D. Holders Look to Life Outside School
by Douglas Belkin in the Wall Street Journal
“New doctorate holders are grappling with dwindling employment prospects.”

“…The percentage of new doctorate recipients without jobs or plans for further study climbed to 39% in 2014 from 31% in 2009, according to a National Science Foundation survey released in April. Median salaries for midcareer Ph.D.s working full time fell 6% between 2010 and 2013.

“The reason: supply and demand. Production of doctorates in the U.S. climbed 28% in the decade ending in 2014 to an all-time high of 54,070. That surge has come as more Americans see a postgraduate degree as a hedge against stagnating wages and unemployment in an economy demanding increasingly specific skills and expertise.

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Why the Fed is excited about US growth. Why they’re wrong.

Summary: After years of disappointment, a happy few retain their optimism about the US economy’s growth — including many of the Fed’s governors, hence their enthusiasm about raising interest rates. Here you’ll see one reason they’re excited, the sad reality behind it, and the logical but dark conclusion.Job Growth

 

Business Insider said “Job openings rise to a record high“. Even more exciting is CNBC, who produces a truly meaningless headline: “JOLTS: 5.8 million job openings in April vs 5.7 million expected” (as if the number “expected” means anything, or the 1.7% difference is significant).

Josh Zumbrun at the WSJ wrote a more accurate analysis: “A Hiring Decline in April Points to Broader Labor Market Woes“, “Fewer people are getting hired despite a high number of job openings and few layoffs.” He describes the puzzle.

“A persistent puzzle in the data: employers report having a record number of job openings available but the hiring rate shows people are not actually being hired into those jobs. That puzzle remained in today’s report. The pace of hiring declined, while the number of jobs available at the end of April climbed to 5.8 million from 5.7 million.”

There is a simple explanation to this important puzzle. But first, see why the optimists are excited: the number of job openings has risen — and now exceeds job hires (from the JOLTS report)! Perhaps this means that the economy is starting to over-heat!  We have labor shortages, so wages must be rising at an accelerating rate — a terrible thing called “wage inflation” (economists’ never speak of “profits inflation”).

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May’s job report shows the beginning of the end for the recovery

Summary: First, the good news: the May number was awful but probably noise. Then the bad news: job growth is slowing fast. It’s the among last economic metrics to roll over, suggesting that we’re sliding to a recession somewhere ahead of us. But the US is not a “Starbucks Economy”; real wage growth is normal. This is the second of two posts today; see Immigration to the US surges. It’s good news for Trump!

The good news about the bad news:
May’s job growth was ugly, but might just be noise
Note the other bum months amidst the otherwise steady growth
Graph of the monthly change in jobs since Jan 2013

Employment Change - May 2016

Employment is still growing, but slowing fast
Graph of the year-over-year percentage growth in jobs

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