Why the jobs problem is not going away
Richard Dobbs & Anu Madgavkar
Three years after the official end of the ‘Great Recession’, millions of workers across advanced economies remain unemployed. The US and UK unemployment rates remain above 8%; among eurozone countries, unemployment exceeds 10% (US Bureau of Labour Statistics 2012). This reflects not only the weakness of the recovery—and renewed recession in parts of Europe—it is also symptomatic of long-range trends that will continue to prevent a return to full employment and, left unaddressed, could inhibit growth in the advanced economies and, very soon, in China as well.
In a recent report with colleagues at the McKinsey Global Institute, we analyse the global labour market, and the trends and challenges that policymakers and business leaders need to tackle (Dobbs et al. 2012).
There are growing mismatches between skills that employers demand and skills available in the labour market. For the past three decades, technological advances and business process improvements have reduced demand for low-skill labour in advanced economies. Factories have many more machines and far fewer workers. Routine transaction and office tasks have been automated or eliminated. Yet, even in a soft job market, employers in the US and Europe say they can’t find enough high-skill workers to fill some open positions.
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