While President Trump continues to argue the economy can be reinvigorated through substantial tax cuts and protectionist policies, evidence continues to mount that the actual problem throttling back growth is a lack of workers, not a lack of jobs.
The New York Times this week reports:
After eight years of steady growth, the main economic concern in Utah and a growing number of other states is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers.
The unemployment rate here fell to 3.1 percent in March, among the lowest figures in the nation. Nearly a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4 percent, well below the level that economists consider “full employment,” the normal churn of people quitting to find new jobs. The rate in some cities, like Ames, Iowa, and Boulder, Colo., is even lower, at 2 percent.
All of that is potentially good news for workers – if they have skills training, something that President Trump has yet to embrace.
His political argument has gone something like this: If you don’t have a job, it’s because an unfair trade deal sent your gig to another country or an undocumented immigrant stole the job that you would hold here in this nation if an “illegal” wasn’t doing it instead of you.
Based in part on a lack of emphasis on skills training, the economy is difficult to kickstart. Again from the Times:
…labor shortages are weighing on overall economic growth, slowing the pace of expansion in northern Utah and other fast-growing regions even as unemployment remains stubbornly high in Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and in regions still recovering from the 2008 recession, like inland California.
To Todd Bingham, the president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, “3.1 percent unemployment is fabulous unless you’re looking to hire people.”
“Our companies are saying, ‘We could grow faster, we could produce more product, if we had the workers,’” he said. “Is it holding the economy back? I think it definitely is.”
The entire article from the Times can be found here.