As the labor market continues its slow return to health following the Great Recession, there is growing concern that unemployed workers just don’t have the skills needed for the jobs employers are trying to fill. But in fact, there is little evidence to suggest that skill shortages are a serious problem in today’s labor market. Katharine Abraham will review the evidence and consider why there is a widespread perception of a serious skills mismatch when the data seem to be saying otherwise. She will conclude with a brief discussion of implications for policy.
Katharine G. Abraham is a professor of economics and survey methodology at the University of Maryland, and director of the Maryland Center for Economics and Policy. She is a labor economist whose published work includes papers on labor-market policy, internal labor markets, and the measurement of economic activity. From 1993 through 2001, Abraham served as commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and from 2011 through 2013, she was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. She is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Iowa State University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2002, and she was the 2002 recipient of the Julius Shiskin Award for Economic Statistics. She was elected a fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2003 and a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists in 2007. Abraham received a B.S. in economics from Iowa State University in 1976 and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1982.