Pipeline of Highly Educated Workers is Misaligned in Localities Big and Small

Ever wonder if your colleges and universities are aligned with the needs of your industries?  Sure, it is easy to pinpoint the number of engineers or biochemists in a given market, but what about the pipeline and how many employers are chasing these graduates? Put another way, given the size of the industries in your region that employ highly educated workers, is your area graduating enough postsecondary students to adequately meet demand? The answer can surprise you. In big and small markets, most areas do a good job of graduating students with some work-relevant degrees, but fall below average in some segments. A case in point, the fast growing cities of Texas are struggling to align their higher education programs with the ever evolving needs of industry in a few areas. 

Chmura created its training concentration index to answer precisely this question. Is this area graduating a sufficient number of postsecondary—associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees—students given the demands of the area’s industry mix? If the answer turns out to be a deficit in certain skills areas, companies in these sectors are either importing talent from outside the region or hiring employees without the work-related skills and background they need, and thus committing themselves longer training periods and probably more turnover.

In the table below, Chmura’s economist calculated the training concentration at the 2-digit SOC aggregate level for several MSAs of different sizes. What this table showcases is that it is neither geography nor size that predicts if an area is producing a sufficient number of college graduates given the industry size and mix. In the table below, the red arrows indicate an occupational grouping where the MSA is not graduating enough degrees that track into these occupations given the size of the industries that use these employees. Green cross-arrows indicate approximate equilibrium between supply and demand for degree awards that feed into these jobs, whereas the blue arrows indicate a regional oversupply of students earning degrees that track into these positions.

This analysis helps JobsEQ® users demonstrate their area’s relative strengths in terms of the education pipeline as well as understand areas where there may be opportunity to work with local education providers to expand programs that feed into occupations important to an area’s industry clusters. JobsEQ® enables this analysis at a more granular level—for an individual occupation—and for any kind of geography—county, group of counties, or at the state or MSA level. However, when using this analytic, it is important to define your labor shed appropriately to take into account natural commuting patterns into and out of your region.

Training Concentration Table

Unemployment by Occupation Can Vary Significantly by Region

Finding data on the number of unemployed by various occupations and skill levels for most municipalities has been very difficult or even impossible—until now. Even unemployment rates for detailed occupations at the national level are rare to find in published materials. Nothing has been readily and consistently available to analyze unemployment by occupation at the state, MSA, or county level. With this in mind, Chmura’s economists have developed a new model to impute the number of unemployed at the county, MSA, or state level, which can dramatically increase one’s awareness of the occupations and specific types of training programs on which regions need to focus. It also gives economic development professionals and chamber of commerce officials added insight as to where they have sufficient excess labor to meet the demands for industry expansion or contraction.

The results of this analysis speak for themselves. Different occupations exhibit wide variation in their unemployment rates by geographic location. In different areas, the same occupation can either be in high demand or in low demand—shifting the balance of power in wage negotiations and employee retention significantly. The maps below depict the unemployment rate at the county level for three occupations—middle school teachers (25-2022), registered nurses (29-1111) and carpenters (47-2031). Each of these positions requires specialized skills, but each are in very different industries and their employment prospects vary considerably by region. Geography, industry mix, and regional economic outlook all come in to play when examining regional unemployment by occupation.

Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical EducationRegistered NursesCarpentersComputer Support SpecialistsAccountants and Auditors


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Wage Pressure Index Spotlights Hot Job Markets

More and more over the past year, as companies have begun researching expansion initiatives or re-shoring opportunities, Chmura has been asked to provide guidance as to the availability and cost effectiveness of workers in a given area. Many times these industry executives or their site selection consultants have asked Chmura not only to assess the current supply and cost of qualified workers—a task readily accomplished via several analytics in JobsEQ®—but also to compare regions across the country in terms of potential wage pressure by industry or occupation. Companies want to know that they are expanding or relocating into an area with ample supply of qualified workers, but are wary of markets where they could face rapidly increasing labor costs.

Chmura’s economists responded to these requests by utilizing several proprietary features of JobsEQ® to create a wage pressure index that can provide an indicator between two cities or regions, indicating which is likely to experience faster wage growth in a given occupation over the next 2-4 years. Chmura’s wage pressure index combines actual 5-year (historic) wage growth in an occupation or industry with an imputation of the unemployment rate for an occupation (or group of occupations if we are estimating the wage pressure for an industry). These two factors are combined with long-term projections regarding the expected surplus or deficit of a given occupation (or a group of occupations for an industry analysis) and the 10-year employment growth forecast for the city or region. Chmura’s economists then compared these four factors to a national level norm to provide a composite index that is a valid predictor of latent wage pressure in a given city or region for a specific occupation or industry.

Currently, Chmura’s economists are computing the index on an ad-hoc basis for our clients while preparing the method for implementation into JobsEQ® by the end of 2012. To help illustrate the value of this analytic, we have calculated the wage pressure index for software application developers (SOC 15-1132) across the 50 largest US metropolitan statistical areas. The results are quite interesting. Several midwestern and southern MSAs score as having very low wage pressure while many western and southwestern metros, despite having relatively low wages for this position, are likely to see continued high wage appreciation over the next several years. Interestingly, most of the traditional IT hotspots in California and Boston score in the middle of the pack in terms of wage pressure. Texas metros run the gamut with Dallas being one of the MSAs with the lowest wage pressure and San Antonio being one of the highest, with Austin and Houston ranking in the middle. This is analysis is simply an example of the analytic and Chmura strongly feels that this tool is best used at the industry level or for a group of key occupations analyzed together—such as all IT jobs—in order to inform an actual expansion or relocation decision.

Chmura Wage Pressure Index


MSAWage ChangeGapGrowthUnempl
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ MSA Up Up Up Up
Oklahoma City, OK MSA Up Up Up Up
Salt Lake City, UT MSA Up Up Up Up
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA Up Up Up Up
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX MSA Up Up Up Up
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA Up Up Up Up
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA Up Up Up Up
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH MSA Up Up Up Up
Memphis, TN-MS-AR MSA Up Up Up Up
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA Up Up Up Up
St. Louis, MO-IL MSA Up Up Up Up
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI MSA Up Up Up Up
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI MSA Up Up Up Up

More than 2 million jobs will be lost if automatic spending cuts kick in, report says

Fox News recently mentioned a study performed by Chmura Economics & Analytics:

Automatic cuts in federal spending will cost the economy more than 2 million jobs, from defense contracting to border security to education, if Congress fails to resolve the looming budget crisis, according to an analysis released Tuesday.

The study, obtained by The Associated Press, was conducted for the Aerospace Industries Association, but it examined the shared pain for defense and domestic programs from the across-the-board reductions slated to kick in Jan. 2. The cuts would reduce the nation's gross domestic product by $215 billion next year while consumer confidence would plummet, said the report by Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University and Chmura Economics and Analytics.

"If they are allowed to occur as currently scheduled, the long-term consequences will permanently alter the course of the U.S. economy's performance, changing its competitive position in the global economy," said the report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/17/more-than-2-million-jobs-will-be-lost-if-automatic-spending-cuts-kick-in-report/#ixzz20uSAqZrm

Using Forecasts to Further Policy Insight

Chmura's models and analytics, which form the backbone of our flagship product, JobsEQ, were recently utilized by a leading public policy think-tank, America's Edge, to highlight the skills gap that exists in California and Illinois. In part, through the use of forecasts of occupational supply and demand contained in JobsEQ, America's Edge was able to empirically demonstrate the skills-gap that exists in these states, particularly at the mezzanine level (jobs requiring some post-secondary training but less than a full bachelor's degree) of education. There was also a pronounced shortage of workers with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skill-sets, which will increasingly be important to these economies as STEM-related jobs are growing faster than overall job growth.

For instance, utilizing Chmura's JobsEQ America's Edge found that in Los Angeles high-skilled jobs are projected to grow at roughly twice the rate of low-skilled jobs between 2010 and 2020, and that roughly 60 percent of the fastest growing occupations over the next 10 years will be jobs that require an education foundation in STEM. Based on this, they found that LA County has an undersupply of at least 81,000 high and middle-skilled workers. Similarly Illinois' job growth is highly skewed toward jobs that are either highly skilled (bachelor's degree or above) or middle-skilled (associate's degree, vocational degree or professional accreditation.) In Illinois the highest-skilled jobs are expected to grow at more than four times the rate of the lowest-skilled jobs. The Chicago Metropolitan Area has a projected deficit of over 90,000 middle-skilled workers alone.

The full reports for California (June) and Illinois (May) can be found at America's Edge website: http://www.americasedge.org/research/americas-edge-research/

America's Edges research conforms to independent research that Chmura conducted with National Association of Manufacturers, which found a pronounced skill bias in the manufacturing sector. Changes in technology relating to automation of processes and utilizing advance composite materials over the past decade have greatly increased the need for high skilled technicians and tradesmen while simultaneously reducing the need for low-skilled assembly and material moving positions. In almost every sector of the economy jobs requiring more skills, particularly STEM skills, command the higher wages and provide greater job security.

Even though this last recession has hit all workers, regardless of education, very hard, education is still the best avenue to securing higher wages. STEM-related occupations also command a premium across the country as well as in the states of Illinois and California.

Average Annual Wage by Education Level (2011)