“We definitely need to be using better, more real-time labor-market information about where the jobs are, and we need to do this at a very local level,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, a former senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and now an associate professor at Northeastern University.
About 4.8 million jobs went unfilled in August even as 9.6 million Americans were unemployed, Labor Department data show. Hiring has been slow to accelerate, fanning concern there’s a shortage of qualified workers.
Modestino’s research found that in regions with high unemployment in 2007 to 2012, employers “raised the bar” for education and experience for middle-skill openings without lifting pay because they had their pick of candidates. Workers now need more help spotting opportunities and training accordingly, as “the demand for skills is shifting rapidly,” she said.