Another striking comparison is the length of time it takes to fill some job openings and the length of time people are unemployed. From a survey about Oregon's job vacancies conducted in the fall of 2010, we learned that more than 7 percent of open positions had been open for 60 or more days. At the same time, the average length of time that someone in the U.S. spent unemployed was about 34 weeks (238 days).
How can all of these things co-exist? With such a large number of job seekers spending weeks and months searching for employment, how can there be so many job openings - some of which are hard to fill? Part of the problem is a skills mismatch.
During the last four years, as the economy stumbled, plummeted, dusted itself off, and then slowly began to recover, job losses and job growth occurred in different industries. For instance, construction employment declined considerably (-37%), while healthcare employment experienced strong growth (9%). This mismatch between industries losing jobs and those gaining jobs means that some unemployed persons don't have the right education, experience, or skills needed to fill the jobs that are currently available.
Unfortunately, just looking one-to-one at skills gives an unrealistic picture of the job market. Employers aren't looking for just a couple of skills; they need workers with a robust set of skills. Employers want to find people who possess all or nearly all of the skills needed for their job openings.
Thus instead of one-to-one comparisons, we need to compare skill set to skill set. This is exactly how the iMatchSkills system works - it compares the skills employers want to the skills held by job seekers and lets users know when there is a strong match. The system does an excellent job of this for individual job seekers and job openings.
Comparing all of the skill sets on both sides of the system at the same time is a different matter. Job seekers might match to multiple job openings, and each job opening could match several job seekers. The number of skills that match is also quite variable. This forms a complicated web, making it difficult to study the overall degree of skills mismatch in the economy.
For now, we can reasonably assume that there is some degree of skills mismatch in the economy based on several indicators: the uneven employment changes during the last four years, the striking contrast between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings, the long duration of some job openings, and the long duration of unemployment for many individuals. Learning about the specific mismatches in Oregon's economy will require further, more detailed review.