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Too Many Low-Skill Workers Are Failing Drug Tests, Texas Firms Say

William Edwards

(Bloomberg) -- Employers in Texas say too many low-skill workers are failing to pass drug tests needed to get hired.

Forty-eight percent of Texas firms who had difficulty finding low-skill workers cited their inability to pass a drug test or a criminal background check, a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas showed Thursday. That’s the most-cited of five reasons for disqualification of low-skilled employees, more than a lack of soft skills or experience.

As the U.S. labor market tightens with the unemployment rate at a five-decade low of 3.5%, employers continue to point out the difficulty in finding qualified workers. This has led some companies to relax drug policies. However, some high-risk sectors such as the oil industry are unable to do so because of safety regulations.

Low-skill jobs make up 43% of job postings in Texas, according to the report, which was based on an August survey of 385 business executives in the state. It also showed 72% of firms indicating they were having difficulty finding workers saying there was a lack of or no available applicants at all skill levels.

The Texas jobless rate stood in August at 3.4%, the lowest in records back to 1976, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Edwards in Washington at wedwards29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at slanman@bloomberg.net, Vince Golle

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