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Different skills, different gaps: Measuring and closing the skills gap

The U.S. labor market is as tight as it has been since the Great Recession, with unemployment at 4.1 per cent in December 2017. Yet employers continue to struggle to find the skilled labor they need. If job creation in the aggregate isn’t solving the problem, how can we identify and address the specific places where supply isn’t meeting demand? In this report, prepared for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we examine the skills gap on an occupation-by-occupation basis. This is the best way to both understand the gap, and to close it. An overall surplus of workers doesn’t offer much insight into the challenges of a specific industry looking to fill specific roles requiring specific skills. A crucial lesson of this research is that the skills gap is not singular; it is cumulative – the result of different gaps across different kinds of occupations. That is part of why addressing the skills gap has proven so elusive: it defies easy categorization.