We have more jobs than we can fill, but they are mismatched to the skills our job seekers have.

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Let's Break It Down

The metro has unfilled positions, but a significant pool of potential workers don't have access to those jobs.

According to the Department of Labor in 2015, there were an estimated monthly average of 44,596 online job openings in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro and 15,378 people who were unemployed. The most frequently advertised jobs were within administrative positions and health care. The persistence of job vacancies during times of higher unemployment may indicate a mismatch between the skills required to do a job and the skills available among the pool of workers.

Since 2008, the percentage of jobs available that require a high school diploma or less went up as the percentage of jobs that require a college degree went down. According to Accelerate Nebraska, 76% of jobs in 2022 are projected to require an associate's degree or less. While a college degree may not be the only path to a successful career, most livable wage jobs require at least some type of training or vocational program, if not a formal degree. We also know that individuals with a high school degree make $6,000 less annually than people with some college or an associate's degree, and $16,000 less than those who hold a Bachelor's degree.

Understanding what jobs are available and what is needed to access those jobs complex, but a significant economic opportunity for our community. Measuring a possible skills gap will require:

  • Local leaders and employers understanding the skills needed for today's job market
  • Creating standards that measure workers' skills and match them to wages, especially in new technology jobs
  • Investment in training, transportation, and new management practices that fit the needs of our community's pool of workers.

Why Does It Matter?

Local job seekers face barriers to employment.

Opportunity and access to both new and available jobs is critical for our economy. Job access means there are employment opportunities available that provide a livable wageyet there are often obstacles that prevent qualified job seekers from having access to any number of job opportunities. Education and training are some of many potential barriers to employment. If a person lacks the right educational background or skill set, they can be excluded from available job opportunities. Additionally, if someone has an arrest record, they may struggle to find a job, regardless of education. 

Not having access to safe, reliable transportation also creates a barrier to employment. According to a MAPA Metro Area Travel Improvement Study, less than half (45%) of all jobs in the metro are within 1/4 of a mile of a bus stop. They project that percentage would decrease to 40% of jobs by 2040. Lacking access to safe and affordable childcare also creates challenges for accessing jobs.

How Do We Compare?

Our region is projected to have slower growth in high skilled jobs compared to the country overall.

In 2014, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics completed projections for the fastest growing occupations. In the top 20 occupations, about 1 of 3 required less than an associate's degree and 3 out of 4 required a associate's degree or higher. The opposite is projected to be true locally. More local data is needed to understand how we compare with other communities around other employment barriers.

Data Source:  Nebraska Bureau of Labor Statistics, MAPA Metro Area Travel Improvement Study, National Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, US Census American Community Survey 2015 5-year Estimates Table B20004.

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