Skill gaps, skill shortages, and skill mismatches: Evidence and arguments for the United States
Concerns over the supply of skills in the U.S. labor force, especially education-related skills, have exploded in recent years with a series of reports not only from employer-associated organizations but also from independent and even government sources making similar claims. These complaints about skills are driving much of the debate around labor force and education policy, yet they have not been examined carefully. In this article, the author assesses the range of these charges as well as other evidence about skills in the labor force. Very little evidence is consistent with the complaints about a skills shortage, and a wide range of evidence suggests the complaints are not warranted. Indeed, a reasonable conclusion is that overeducation remains the persistent and even growing condition of the U.S. labor force with respect to skills. The author considers three possible explanations for the employer complaints and the associated policy implications.