Unemployment stays flat but skilled positions available

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Guitar factory in San Diego
Taylor Guitar factory in San Diego. (Photo credit: Marcin Wichary via Flickr)

Friday’s national unemployment numbers weren’t showing much improvement. (Here’s the Wall Street Journal article on it) The national unemployment stays at 8.2 percent and only 90,000 non-farm jobs were added in June.

There’s no getting around the perception that this recovery has been slowing.

But there are other indications, right here in California that might get you scratching your head a bit. This article in the Sacramento Bee caught our attention this week when it talked about online job postings increasing in the Capitol City area. Then we remembered that Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom told the attendees at the first California Economic Summit in May that a major California jobs site had a whopping 445,000 jobs open and unfilled.

As we have learned through the process of the Economic Summit, California’s economy is not one economy, but a series of regional economies. So where you live might have an impact on whether jobs are as plentiful as they appear to be in Sacramento.

But our work over the past several months have indicated that there are number of jobs available in a some sectors and we just don’t have enough qualified workers for them.

Tom Mundy who owns and operates Superior Thread Rolling in Arleta, California is frustrated. The firm makes precision manufacturing items for the transportation industry.

“My biggest challenge is finding trained people and keeping them,” said Mundy who has owned the firm for nearly three decades. A look at his website shows you can see he is searching for qualified manufacturing employees right now.

“I’m not alone. Everyone in my business is looking for people. The jobs are here, the qualified workers are not,” Mundy added, “When you spend time training people, other firms come in and poach them which is obviously frustrating, and an indication that the pool of qualified workers is very shallow.”

The National Tooling and Machining Association has a number of training centers around the country, including several in California. Their enrollments are nearly full. By the way, these schools used to get state funding to help train workers, but most of the students there now are paying their own way. Why? Because jobs in the industry exist.

The Economic Summit, of course, has tackled job creation as a top priority and has called for more workforce training and career education resources to focus on major regional industries.

The lack of qualified manufacturing workers is, as business owners have told us, a national problem and a huge opportunity for California. If California can commit to a smart workforce development plan, like the one outlined in the Summit Action Plan, we could find people from all over the country coming to the Golden State.


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan