Whatever the news reports the fact is that the job scene offers a bleak vista, just ask any recent college grad or those who have been unemployed for a year or more.   The  basic problem is a still too low propensity to consume.  And that comes from fewer in the work force, stagnant income growth, and paying down consumer debt instead of increasing debt.

There is another factor to consider, inflexibility in the work force.  There are locations and jobs that have shortages of labor.  The main item here is the booming oil and gas fields in the Northern Plains states.  Anyone who can breath at minus 10 degrees can find a job in Minot, North Dakota regardless of experience, skills or training.   This boom is also raising job prospects in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and a few other gas and oil production centers.

But there are other fields where jobs go vacant for lack of applicants.  A friend of mine teaches college accounting.  He tells me that every student in his third year of accounting has a job lined up for when he graduates.  Another friend tells me that the same is true for third year students in electrical engineering.

Thus a major problem for the job market is the inflexibility of the work force.  Many will not move to find work while others will not undertake the training for fields with many openings.  One could argue that the present security net allows people to be more selective in what jobs they will pursue, e.g. unemployment benefits will be extended once more.  Another factor is that fewer have to work to provide for all.   Certainly the quantum leap in automating our production does this.

Using macro remedies to stimulant employment has not worked well.  But we can do something about breaking the inflexibility apparent in our work force.  Time to press hard for moving to or training for “where the jobs are.”