As layoffs persist, good jobs go unfilled

CHRISTOPHER LEONARD | 10/ 4/09 08:05 PM | AP

In a brutal job market, here’s a task that might sound easy: Fill jobs in nursing, engineering and energy research that pay $55,000 to $60,000, plus benefits.

Yet even with 15 million people hunting for work, even with the unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, some employers can’t find enough qualified people for good-paying career jobs.

Ask Steve Jones, a hospital recruiter in Indianapolis who’s struggling to find qualified nurses, pharmacists and MRI technicians. Or Ed Baker, who’s looking to hire at a U.S. Energy Department research lab in Richland, Wash., for $60,000 each.

Economists say the main problem is a mismatch between available work and people qualified to do it. Millions of jobs with attractive pay and benefits that once drew legions of workers to the auto industry, construction, Wall Street and other sectors are gone, probably for good. And those who lost those jobs generally lack the right experience for new positions popping up in health care, energy and engineering.

Many of these specialized jobs were hard to fill even before the recession. But during downturns, recruiters tend to become even choosier, less willing to take financial risks on untested workers.

The mismatch between job opening and job seeker is likely to persist even as the economy strengthens and begins to add jobs. It also will make it harder for the unemployment rate, now at 9.8 percent, to drop down to a healthier level.

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Good luck trying to succeed as a kid in America

Julia Steiny

If the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s most recent report had been an international comparison of test scores, the media would have gone berserk. Negativity certainly erupts when ODEC releases the results of their Programme for International Student Assessment test, since it generally shows U.S. students performing poorly compared with their peers in other industrialized nations. The PISA tests invariably get lots of press, with experts making dire predictions that our under-skilled kids and lackluster schools are taking us down to economic ruin.

ODEC is a Paris-based organization that collects and monitors statistics on 30 industrialized countries.

But ODEC’s most recent report, “Doing Better for Children,” examines child well-being, not test scores. Education data are included, but the focus is poverty, teen-parenting, environmental quality, and telling measures like whether kids have desks, calculators and other basic tools to do schoolwork at home. (Forty-eight percent of U.S. children do not. The ODEC average is 35.)

In short, by ODEC’s measures, the U.S. does a wretched job of caring for its children. The statistics are appalling. So why wouldn’t the press care?

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263,000 Jobs Lost in September, Far More Than Forecast

By JACK HEALY

October 2, 2009 New York Times

The American economy lost 263,000 jobs in September — far more than expected — and the unemployment rate rose 9.8 percent, the government reported on Friday, dimming the prospect of any meaningful job growth by the end of the year.

The Labor Department’s monthly snapshot of unemployment dashed hopes that the pace of job losses would continue to slow as the economy clawed its way back from a deep recession. Economists had been hoping for 175,000 monthly job losses.

In one bright spot, fewer jobs were lost in August than originally reported — with 201,000 positions gone instead of earlier figures of 216,000.

But overall, the report offered little good news for the 15.1 million unemployed people in the United States. The number of hours worked stagnated. Overtime hours slipped in many industries. And temporary help companies — typically, among the first to rebound after a recession — shed 1,700 jobs.

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Feds may pay for R.I. Medicaid expansion

State would not have to share increased costs until 2019

By Ted Nesi

Providence Business News Web Editor

WASHINGTON — The federal government would pick up the full cost of expanding Medicaid coverage in Rhode Island for five years under a special provision of the Senate Finance Committee’s health care reform bill.

Increasing the number of Americans eligible for Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor, is a key provision of all the various health bills moving through Congress.

The cost of Medicaid is shared by federal and state government, with the split varying based on a formula. In Rhode Island, the federal government has paid around 52 percent of Medicaid costs in recent years. Continue reading

Study: R.I. social safety net ill-managed

By Chris Barrett
Providence Business News Staff Writer

Rhode Island’s social safety net is expensive and splintered, according to a report released jointly today by United Way of Rhode Island and the R.I. Public Expenditure Council.

The 58-page report details federal and state programs that provide assistance to the state’s poor, unemployed and disabled residents. It comes as the state’s economy continues to struggle and state agencies deal with an influx of residents seeking social services.

The report found that 46 percent of all spending in this year’s enacted state budget flows to grants and benefits for programs such as Medicaid, medical assistance programs, child care subsidies and unemployment benefits.

[United Way Report PDF after the jump.] Continue reading

Ranks of R.I. uninsured grew 9% in ’08

By Ted Nesi
Providence Business News Web Editor

The number of people in Rhode Island without health insurance coverage climbed to 123,000 in 2008 from 113,000 the previous year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

With 10,000 more people losing health insurance coverage last year, the percentage of Rhode Islanders who are uninsured rose to 11.8 percent from 10.8 percent in 2007, the agency said in its annual report on incomes, poverty and health insurance.

The percentage of Rhode Islanders with some form of private or public health insurance fell to 88.2 percent, down from a recent peak of 91.4 percent in 2006. At the start of the decade, in 2000, about 93 percent of state residents had health insurance coverage. Continue reading

More in Rhode Island now living in poverty

By Paul Edward Parker

Providence Journal Staff Writer

More than 3 percent of Rhode Island’s population — some 33,000 men, women and children — fell into poverty in 2008 as the recession tightened its grip on the Ocean State, according to recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

From 2007 to 2008, Rhode Island displaced Massachusetts as the New England state with the highest poverty rate. The state also leapfrogged Maine and Vermont in the process, going from fourth-highest to highest in the six-state region.

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