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Without Training, Low-Skill Workers Face Serious Labor Market Challenges

Jun 21, 2010

By Anna Suhring

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new unemployment numbers that, at first look, seem encouraging. The economy grew during the month of May, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Upon closer examination, however, it is clear that the nation's job growth is tenuous at best.

Analysts note that much of the job growth is due to temporary Census positions. Furthermore, despite the emergence of new jobs, the national unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, a figure that has changed little since the beginning of the year and a figure that hovers around generational highs.

Worse, long-term unemployment is at its highest level since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track of the statistic. Today, more than 7 million workers have been out of work for six months or more. For low-income, low-skill people and minority workers, the unemployment situation is far worse. These populations have unemployment averages 25 to 50 percent higher than the national average.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. labor market has 7.4 million fewer jobs today than it did at the beginning of the recession in December 2007. Even if jobs growth maintained the average pace of the last three months, it would take nearly two years to restore all the lost jobs, according to EPI.

But simply creating jobs won't solve some underlying, structural labor market issues.
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