Thursday, October 6, 2011

Structural Unemployment

So apparently we're supposed to debate whether the current rates of unemployment are a symptom of a structural problem or a cyclical problem, but for some reason that debate always just makes me end up feeling like the Chamber of Commerce, and the subset of people who get paid to write about their opinions, each contain a whole lot of assholes. Also, I have a hard time seeing it as an either/or proposition. Overall unemployment is high, and employers are taking this opportunity to outsource as much of the risk and cost associated with training workers as they can by insisting that the training be completed on your own time and your own dime before they'll even consider interviewing you. Never mind that individual workers (or really, want-to-be workers) aren't very well equipped to deal with the potential downside of investing too much in the wrong kind of training and are operating at a significant information disadvantage when it comes to knowing which kind of training is most needed, individual workers are expendable and employers don't really care if they find a place in the workforce or not.

I guess the flip side of this is that the increase in labor force mobility in the past few decades has cut into the advantages to employers of investing in training. And I'm not sure what the actual solution would be. But I think it's pretty clearly a problem with the way the current system works, and one that makes me grind my teeth every time some fat cat decides to whine that he'd love to hire some people if only he could find qualified applicants.

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