Low Skills Aren’t Causing the Unemployment Crisis

More than 12 million people in the United States are pounding the pavement, searching for a job without luck. This is fewer than a few years ago — we had a high of nearly 16 million unemployed in 2010 — but far more than at any point in recent memory prior to the Great Recession.

Why are people out of work? Some economists have been arguing that today’s high unemployment is explained by a mismatch between the skills that employers are looking for and the skills that the unemployed have. “Firms have jobs, but can’t find appropriate workers,” the Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said in Michigan in 2010. “The workers want to work, but can’t find appropriate jobs.” Indeed, there were 3.7 million unfilled job openings in the United States in June of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, it’s unlikely that this phenomenon is a major driver of persistently high unemployment.

This article was originally published in The Atlantic.