According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are currently 5.4 million job openings in the U.S. This is the highest mark since the department started collecting this data in 2000. This is clearly welcome news, as the great recession is still fresh in our memories. Just five years ago, there were precious few options for people looking for work, so seeing over 5 million jobs today is a reflection of our economic recovery.
However, as with most things economic, there is always an “on the other hand” argument to make. A large number of job openings could also tell us that employers are just not finding the right workers for the jobs they have available. This situation is more prevalent in today’s tech-based economy. Businesses are often looking for very specific technical skills and will keep looking for the ideal candidate for as long as it takes.
According to Wanted Analytics, the top occupation segments that businesses are having trouble filling (both locally and nationally) are computer and math occupations. The challenge of meeting the needs of an ever-changing information technology workforce is likely to be with us for a while.
But, back to the good news! Like the national economy, Kansas City is seeing increased job availability. All told, there are about 42,000 current openings in the Kansas City metro across a wide array of sectors, led by Sales, Health Care, Transportation, Administrative Support, Management and IT.
The regional economy has been humming along at a brisk pace for a while now, but we have only recently been seeing signs that employment is starting to keep pace. To maintain job growth, we need to make sure we are investing in our human capital, and supplying a workforce with the skills today’s business environment needs.
Human capital is a key focus of two related initiatives in the region: KC Rising, a long-term vision for regional prosperity, and GradForceKC, an initiative focused on increasing post-secondary attainment. Both of these efforts are focused on finding new ways to connect job training to employer needs.