High Skilled Jobs Offering $10/hour. Few Takers

CBS 60 minutes a few weeks ago, had a piece on the shortage of skilled welders and metal cutters being reported endlessly in the press.  I have to say I was shocked to learn that after 2 years of intensive math and practical skills at a Community College the “valued” worker would be earning about $12 an hour.  At 2,000 hours of work a year (40 hour week) that’s $24,000!  In 2012 poverty level for a family of 4 was $23,050.  [At Costco a cashier assistant averages $11.92, with upside of $20 an hour.  MacDonalds crew averages $7.63 and hour.  Minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.24 an hour.]

Adam Davidson reinforced my shock with a piece in the NY Times  on Nov 20th: Skills Don’t Pay the Bills

The secret behind this [so called] skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.

In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers. “Trying to hire high-skilled workers at rock-bottom rates,” the Boston Group study asserted, “is not a skills gap.”

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