SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Utah’s unemployment rate (3.1%) and job growth (3.2%) are among the best in the nation. Many businesses still report difficulty finding as many qualified workers as they need to fill available positions.
A new research report from the Utah Foundation links the scarcity of skilled workers could be due to a number of factors, including a tight labor market, low wages, job desirability and skills gaps.
Key findings of the report titled Help Wanted: Workforce Participation, Wages, Job Desirability and Skills Gaps include:
- Utah’s current labor force participation rate of 68.9% is still substantially lower than the 71-72% of the nineties and early 2000s.
- A 2015 survey of Utah businesses found the majority were offering lower wages than they were already paying current employees in difficult-to-fill positions.
- Despite experiencing below-average unemployment rates for the past four years, wages have not increased as expected in a tight labor market.
- While 63% of parents expect their children to earn a 4-year degree, only 32% of Utahns historically do and only 29% of jobs in 2020 will require one.
- Governments, educational institutions, non-profits, trade organizations, private companies, and others are all working both independently and collaboratively to solve the skills gap through different methods.
“Utah’s stakeholders, both public and private, are really pulling together to make sure Utah workers meet industry needs,” said Utah Foundation Research Analyst Christopher Collard, the author of the report.
Initiatives such as the Talent Ready Utah initiative have been put in place to help young workers go directly into industries where more training and higher skill levels are required. However, Collard adds, “Wages and job desirability factors are necessary parts to any discussion on worker shortages or skills gaps.”
Utah Foundation, non-partisan public policy research organization, has been studying Utah’s workforce and vocational training programs since 1948. More information is available at www.utahfoundation.org.
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