Politicians are trumpeting U3 employment stats in the recovery, with U.S. unemployment at 5.5% and Connecticut at 6.6%.
But these numbers are misleading.
U6, which includes discouraged workers and part-timers who want full-time work, is a more comprehensive measure of labor underemployment.
Connecticut's U6 is a whopping 12.6%.
And minority rates of unemployment, especially among youth, are staggering.
Youth unemployment (U3) stands at 11.9%. Recent U3 figures show 15.9% of African-Americans and 11.5% of Hispanics are unemployed.
These numbers are totally unacceptable. We need to get all of our people back to work.
A key reason wages are growing so slowly is that this hidden underbelly of total unemployment is known by employers when they post ads for jobs.
Employers are inundated with applications. Unfortunately, the vast majority of applicants lack the skills they need.
Companies are screaming for people with technical, managerial, and trade skills. From actuaries, accountants, and sales pros to machinists, CNC and CAD/CAM technicians, to plumbers, electricians, HVAC installers/repairers, and truck drivers, open slots are going unfilled.
This is a problem that demands a concerted effort.
Schools have to teach and counsel students about real job opportunities.
Parents must support kids who want something other than four-year liberal arts degrees.
Finally, policymakers have to address these real problems rather than create obstacles to hiring.
Do all this and the market will adjust wages with U6 rates falling closer to lower U3 rates of unemployment.