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Labor shortages on the horizon: The Conference Board

American workers may get the upper hand in the labor market in the not too distant future.

A new report out today by the Conference Board, a non-profit research group, finds labor shortages in the U.S. are growing. That will create opportunities for younger workers.

The study examined labor shortages in 464 occupations and it projects shortfalls in a long list of professions over the next 15-years. Labor shortages will vary significantly by occupation and industry for entirely different reasons. 

A aging population will drive up demand for health-related professions such as occupational and physical therapists.

Skilled Labor occupations like operators for water and wastewater plants, crane and tower operators, transporation inspectors, construction and building inspectors are likely to experience a big deficit of workers because the younger generation is not entering these fields as baby boomers retire.

Surprisingly though, the Conference board report—titled “From Not Enough Jobs to Not Enough Workers” finds that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs will not face significant labor shortages due to a large portion of immigrants entering STEM positions and a higher number of young workers entering these fields.

Some other jobs that are at low risk of labor shortages, include, cashiers, telemarketers, actors, cooks,waiters,food preparation workers and credit analysts.


The good news is tighter labor markets will translate to a long overdue pay raise for workers. 

“I think in the next year or two we’ll start seeing wage pressures in the U.S. that will last for a very long time,” said Gad Levanon, one of the authors of the report and the director of macroeconomic and labor market research at the Conference Board.

The bad news is a higher wage bill will put the squeeze corporate profits. Plus, labor shortages and uncertain labor costs are worrying for big business, and could add a new risk factor to the recovering economy.

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