Great Demands from Employers Mean Jobs Go Unfilled Even with High Unemployment

not hiring

The total number of job openings does remain historically low: 3.2 million, down from 4.4 million before the recession. But the number of openings has surged 37 percent in the past year. And yet the unemployment rate has actually risen during that time. […]

Human resource specialists say employers who increasingly need multi-skilled employees aren’t willing to settle for less. They’d rather wait and hold jobs vacant.

HR specialists even have a nickname for the highly sought but elusive job candidate whose skills and experiences precisely match an employer’s needs: the “purple squirrel.”

MSNBC: Employer demands mean some jobs go unfilled

This is a trend I’ve seen a lot in information technology. Even with supposed shortages of “qualified” IT workers, workers report great difficulty finding jobs because their requirements are so incredibly niche.

Sometimes it’s just flat-out cluelessness – I’ve heard about job listings that request more years experience with certain software packages than those packages have even existed. But most of the time it’s the employer not being willing to invest in training employees.

Companies have long been relying on temps and “permatemps” instead of actual employees for years now.

There’s some need, of course, for better training programs in schools (as I’ve argued here), but there’s also a certain amount of responsibility employers are going to have to take in training workers. (PG&E is partnering with community colleges to train workers, for instance.)

Photo by Daniel Lobo


  1. I’ve seen this in and around Austin quite a bit. Even deskside support wants fluency in database packages, Linux, office backend software, and 3 or 4 alphabet soup qualifications after your name. And this is tier one and two support here. So, yes, the market may have more jobs in it for the tech sector, but the employers are wanting unreasonable demands for basic things. These jobs are going to continue to go unfilled as employers ask for higher level resumes because they think they can get them.

  2. Get rid of illegals.

    Hopefully no need for a fence, profiling, or horrible vigilante justice against those that hire them. Just make sure the authorities check the books on employers and fully prosecute those that hire them.

    There’d be NEGATIVE unemployment. “You can take this job and shove it!” wouldn’t be met with derisive laughter anymore. Yeah, lots of ‘work’ jobs but that’s a good thing. It wouldn’t just be a matter of hiring someone at decent wages, some businesses would collapse for they’d not have the workers, period.

    And the bane of the “IT” related field is that plenty of people should have been other professions, chiefly labor or manufacturing. But with those jobs disappearing, overseas or beneath the beneath the poverty line to illegals, these other types force themselves to stay awake through classes and lie on their resumes to get these jobs. The competition is high, and then they bully, harass, kiss up and kick down to overcompensate for their stupidity. The more cerebral people who are ideal for clerical work find themselves at a disadvantage and just count the days (and look for excuses to sue) till they get fired or they use that AK-47 their uncle left them.

    Get rid of illegals, there will be an abundance of employment, a horrific shortage of employees. And if any employer closes, plenty to take his market.

  3. 1) Apart from the difficulties inherent in actually enforcing immigration status (for example, Colorado has found it costs more than they save in social services:, it’s not at all clear that reducing the number of immigrants, illegal or otherwise, would change the jobs picture.

    For example, one study found immigrants (both legal and illegal) raise wages for local workers:

    And that’s putting aside the fact that having a shortage of workers isn’t economically desirable either.

    2) I don’t know if you’ve worked in an office recently, but the problem there isn’t that “cerebral” people are being pushed out by uneducated workers who would otherwise be working in restaurants or doing construction. It’s that college educated workers with no actual job skills are pushing out otherwise qualified workers who don’t have bachelor’s degrees. We’ve debated the issue of over-educated but under-skilled workers around these parts before:

    About the best case scenario for reducing the labor-pool by removing undocumented workers, without changing anything else, would be that all those un-educated office workers would move into other unskilled labor like washing dishes and cleaning hotel rooms and leave the data entry jobs for the educated classes. Meanwhile, the same jobs that go unfilled now would still go unfilled. Hardly a desirable outcome.

    3) According to the most recent report from the BLS (

    There are 14.9 million officially unemployed people in the United States, 8.9 million people working part time for economic reasons, 2.4 million persons marginally attached to the labor force, and 1.1 million discouraged workers.

    That’s a total of 27.3 million unemployed and under-employed people in the US.

    According to the Center for Immigration Studies there were 11 million illegal immigrants in the US in 2008 (, down from 12.5 million in 2007. Assuming that all 11 million are still here, fully-employed, not self-employed, and would be replaced by a legal citizen in the US (all big assumptions) removing the undocumented from the labor force would still leave 16.3 million un-and-under-employed workers.

    That would leave the real unemployment rate over 10%, well over the “full employment” mark (3%).

    4) Reducing the labor pool doesn’t increase the number of jobs, which needs to happen to keep up with population growth

    5) Reducing the labor pool doesn’t stop the bleeding of manufacturing and office jobs due to offshoring and automation or construction jobs lost due to the housing crisis and neglect of infrastructure.

    I could go on, but I think I’ve spent enough time on this.

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