I attended the UCLA Anderson Quarterly Forecast yesterday. The focus was “Where are the Jobs?”, and in addition to hearing from economists that gave briefings on National and California forecasts, we heard from an executive panel that discussed trends and forces in job creation and destruction.
Though more than half a million jobs were created this quarter, the message was to not be too encouraged by this. It was suggested that part of that can be attributed to the 2nd warmest winter on record and dry weather in the west. In addition to weather not stopping people from going to work/working outside, the lower heating bills mean people have more income for other things.
Unemployment still remains high (over 8% in US, over 10% in CA), especially among those in the 16-24 demographic. Also, there is still a large population that doesn’t identify itself as the unemployed – the discouraged workers who have quit looking and who are doing other things, including going to school full time, raising a family, or just hanging out. These people aren’t counted in the potential workforce, and would make unemployment rates look better than they actually are.
One of the executive panelist was Steve Poizner, who is currently the CEO of Empowered Careers, a firm focused on helping the baby-boomer generation find new jobs/careers through certification programs that are taught through UCLA Extension. Steve has started several companies in Silicon Valley and served as the CA Insurance Commissioner under Schwarzenegger – though I remembered him running against Meg Whitman for the Republican gubernatorial ticket in 2010. Several times Steve referenced the fact that even though unemployment is high, there are 3.5M unfilled jobs right now. He sees this as indicating a mismatch in labor skills and job requirements, and is building his company to deal with part of this mismatch. Though his focus is on baby boomers, I think that focused web-delivered training can also be useful for women in their late 20’s-40’s who are looking to either stay engaged in or re-enter the workforce. There is a lot of material available online that people can use to be train/retrained (MIT OpenCourseWare, Khan Academy, Grovo), but there is something to having structure and evidence of having completed the work.
We also heard from Caroline Nahas, an executive recruiter in Los Angeles. She went through several industries and gave her assessment of what jobs are hot and not. I listened to her with a filter for industries that would be a good match between part-time work for professionals and challenging/interesting work. The ones that she saw as high growth that passed the filter were consumer health services (intersection of technology, consumers, health providers), risk management/compliance in the financial sector, and engineering/project management (providing integrative thinking and management).
And because I love data, I wanted to share the Ceridian Pulse of Commerce index that uses real-time data from diesel fuel truck stop purchase across the US to give indications of economic activity. It is currently showing that the economy isn’t doing as well as other indicators are showing, perhaps because housing starts are still low.