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Jobs are Out There, for Those With the Right Skills.

The crash of 2008 erased a lot of manufacturing jobs, but those jobs were declining for 6 decades already. The graph below shows why:

Productivity has increased in tandem with the loss of workforce. This is because the individual worker is more productive. Today, a good manufacturing job means that the worker is trained to either operate a computer controlled precision machining device, or works in some kind of tech manufacturing. These jobs require math and science skills in addition to specific machine training.

Most of the people who I know who lost a job, were involved in servicing the corporate machine, whether through administrative positions, or finance. Construction and industrial manufacturing suffered greatly as well. However, professional and scientific jobs have actually grown since 2006. The series of graphs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics below illustrates this:

Again, people with highly trained skills (Professional, Scientific, and Technical) have remained employed, while not only blue collar, but the economics and history college grads working in finance companies and corporate offices, lost their jobs.

The recession has seen an extraordinary increase in "economy", whereby banks are unwinding assets with poor transparency or certainty, companies are doing the same amount of work with a smaller workforce and cost overhead, and industries/companies on their last leg have been restructured (the auto industry stands out).

The reality is that there are A LOT of jobs out there for people with the right skills. Those skills are namely: Computer Programming, Engineering, Chemical/Biological/Pharmaceutical, and primary healthcare professionals (physicians and nurses).
To confirm this, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

I would add one more to that: In January of 2009, I was getting job offers I never applied for because I have skills in the use of Geographic Information Systems (NYSE:GIS). GIS is one of the fastest growing tools used in all kinds of industry and civil planning, and there is a massive shortage of people trained to use it - particularly because it is one of the most complicated, powerful software products available. If you have a kid in college worried about his or her employment after school, tell him or her to at least take courses in GIS.

When I graduated from my alma mater, originally founded as an Engineering school, and with a number of world renowned science departments, only 25% of the graduating class was receiving a Master of Science, which, with all due respect to the humanities, is a more difficult and comprehensive degree to complete than the Bachelor of Arts, and is far more marketable in the job market.

More Americans need to get skills that lend value to the economy without additional training or job experience, or the goal of working up the corporate administrative ladder. This need not be in 4 year colleges either. If I intend to become a chemical safety technician, or a nurse, it should be easier to get the necessary skills to be available to the workforce sooner.

Even when the unemployment rate was much lower, we were under-utilizing our workforce. MANY Americans, both middle aged and younger people, have not done everything they can do to participate in the REAL economy. We need more engineers, researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, and artisans. We need fewer clerks, bureaucrats, salesmen, endless tiers of management, and administrative assistants. Get irreplaceable skills, and you could miss a recession entirely.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.