Throughout the campaign, President Obama lamented the so-called skills gap and referenced a study claiming that nearly 80 percent of manufacturers have jobs they can’t fill. Mitt Romney made similar claims.
At GenMet, the starting pay is $10 an hour. Those with an associate degree can make $15, which can rise to $18 an hour after several years of good performance. From what I understand, a new shift manager at a nearby McDonald’s can earn around $14 an hour.

The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.
Manufacturers, who face increasing competition from low-wage countries, feel they can’t afford to pay higher wages. Potential workers choose more promising career paths.

When an unskilled job pays more than a skilled job that required time and money to get skilled, we are just shooting ourselves in the employment foot. I WILL have fries with that.

  1. John Andrews says:

    You can’t learn welding in college.

    • RR1 says:

      Sorry you can, they have a whole program for it at the college I work at.

    • DUH! says:

      So I guess you’ve never gone to college or read a community college’s catalog.

      But even in college, you can’t get the “certs” or endorsements many of these idiot employers want. These dip-shit employers want someone ELSE to train their employees before they’ll consider hiring anyone. It’s like these idiot H.R. people are looking for free money or something! SOUND FAMILIAR?

      If you ask me, it sounds like the liberal “dream”!

      • Gwad his own self says:

        I agree with what you said except the “liberal dream” part. Was that sarcasm?

    • Paulrb02 says:

      Technical colleges do teach welding. Which would get you an Associate degree that the article talks about.

      Also I’m an Industrial Engineer and I had a manufacturing class, where I had to learn to weld. I didn’t need to be good at welding, just didn’t to actually know the process.

    • dave m brewer says:

      John Andrews is right… You can’t learn welding in college. You have to know how to read and follow instructions.

      • Gwad his own self says:

        That didn’t make any sense at all.

        John Andrews is the same person as dave m brewer?

        Just guessing, but I’m a good guesser.

  2. McCullough says:

    When I moved from the Caribbean back to the States, not that long ago, to an area where jobs were few and far between, I did what I had to do. I took a $10 per hour job with no benefits. With a Triple E degree and tons of experience, I set my pride aside and looked at the market. I just wanted to work…

    The same happened when I moved to the Caribbean. I took a $10 an hour job, within 4 years I was making 80K with 1% interest in the small company. The company did quite well.

    There is no shame in taking less until you can prove yourself. Grow up and get over it.

    • HaylStorm says:

      Maybe you can start at a $10 an hour job in the Caribbean and work your way up to $80,000 but not in the US and not in our economy. I have a college degree and I’m tired of taking less than what I should be making. I do feel shame that I’m not where I want to be in life. When you try so hard for so long, its hard to have hope.

      • stormtrooper 651 says:

        “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”
        inspirational eh?

        • stormtrooper 651 says:

          need some more inspiration slave? in the soviet union a street sweeper got paid around the same as a doctor – approximately the amount required to just get by, hope that makes you feel satisfactorily equal.

          • stormtrooper 651 says:

            all your bridges are made by chinese companies, all your phones are made by korean companies, all your bases are belong to us.
            you lucky you still get job at macdonalds! ha ha ha!

          • Gwad his own self says:

            I promise you their “wages” had nothing to do with their lifestyle.

            That Cuban doctor may only make $26 a month, but he lives MUCH MUCH better than a pineapple picker who makes the same.

    • DUH! says:

      I understand where you’re coming from and I mostly agree! Problem is, even the employers are looking for handouts too!

      Employers don’t want to look at a person’s education or experience so long as it has NOTHING to do with their particular business. They want pre-paid, pre-packaged EMPLOYEES that someone ELSE had to PRODUCE!

      Sound familiar?

      Employers don’t want to spend their own money to make/train new/better employees because they know these new employees will just leave. And why shouldn’t they? Employers either don’t want to, or can’t PAY A MEANINGFUL WAGE!

      The “can’t” part of that argument you can maybe blame on the new world economy that was ushered in by the likes of Bill Clinton. But when an employer WON’T pay a better wage it’s a bit different.

      Employers will always give themselves “bonuses” and pay raises that go well beyond ridiculous whenever someone stupid enough like the government comes along and decides to bail them out with more welfare — or whenever the business actually makes a profit. But when it comes to welfare, the incorrect thinking seems to come from Democrats who believe if they throw enough money at a problem that it will fix it. And I hate to have to use Rush Limbaugh logic here but it’s true! Never mind where they money comes from either. It almost never helps the poor slob who keeps pumping out the widget which keeps a floundering business in business. And that’s because the employers who are usually republicans will always elect to SCREW the worker or forget him altogether – JUST LIKE THEY ALWAYS HAVE!

      And sure. The government could help with things like higher import tariffs or lower taxes that might level the playing field. But do you really think THAT’S going to happen when the rich (who buy their government representatives) stand to make a whole lot more money FOR THEMSELVES by trading with places like China or even North Korea (assuming North Korea had anything we wanted)?

      Get real!

      So if I were a worker looking to earn a buck, why on earth would I go in debt to go to school to learn skills that no one wants when I could be working as an unskilled worker for McDonalds for MORE MONEY?!

      The lesson seems quite simple: GET MORE MONEY! It’s the ONLY thing we value even when it’s created out of think air and/or STOLEN. It’s called, “getting ahead”!

      So yes. I’m all for paying one’s dues, but COME ON! WHOSE DUES are we talking about?!

      You always hear about these manufacturers who complain about a missing workforce but then won’t re-invest their profits or even cut into their upper echelon’s golden parachute program to GET better workers. They do it for machinery, don’t they? So how utterly stupid can an entire industry get? Or should I ask, HOW GREEDY?!

  3. McCullough says:

    Hope is for chumps.

    I did work my way up here in Colorado from $10 (at the age of 50) as well. A college degree does not equal experience..sorry.

    I understand your frustration, but I see a lot of college graduates who don’t have any real world experience, and that takes time. Unfortunately, your piece of paper is just not worth much in the real world.

    I’m sorry your college guidance counselors didn’t tell you that…So, what do you do and what do you think you should be making?

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

      whoa!!! McCullough===ASKING for tmi? Ha, ha. Becoming a guidance counselor in your dotage as if your experience was any benchmark for anyone else.

      Its called a MARKET===because every form of experience can be had, its a jungle, its people all interacting with one another. Very little fair about it. Two people can do exactly the same thing and one gets a nice piece of fruit, and the other gets a moldy box.

      Life is like that.

      Aren’t there lots of jobs in Idaho right now? course, winter is on its way. You have to be willing to move. Change. Adapt. Overcome.

      find your own happiness as you may.

      Same as it ever was, even in a steepening death spiral.

      Yea, verily.

      • McCullough says:

        Sorry Skippy, but when you live in an area with minimum oppurtunities you may do one of two things: Take what you can to get your foot in the door until something better comes along.

        Or go on the government dole. Sit at home and feel sorry for yourself. I don’t need to guess which one you support.

        Life IS like that.

    • ± says:

      Of course you knew that some flack would come your way from liberal weenies for stating what is true. Often truth hurts. Liberals weenies abide ‘truth hurt’ less than just about any other type of hurt.

  4. Mextli says:

    “I’m tired of taking less than what I should be making.”

    Have hope. You can make less. Try zero for a while.

  5. MikeN says:

    The story is BS. Comparing wages to that of a McDonald’s MANAGER? Sure it’s a ‘new’ shift manager, but do they hire them right out of high school? Undoubtedly you have to work your way to that position. The ‘new’ shift manager probably had experience at other fast food places. I wonder how many fast-food places this reporter asked about wages before he could get the number he wanted.

    • Gwad his own self says:

      Ask around for yourself. Look at the average age of a McD’s shift manager. They’re mostly in their 20’s, so they couldn’t have TOO much experience.

      And you still avoid the whole point here, which is that employers complain that they can’t find skilled workers, when skilled workers are available. It’s like a woman who complains that no men ever ask her out, because she doesn’t count the 5 guys who asked her out last week because they were ugly or didn’t make enough money.

      When they complain that they can’t find “skilled” workers, they mean “cheap skilled workers”.

      That’s in the afterlife. Not here.

      • MikeN says:

        Well yes, it doesn’t take much experience, but that’s not the same as comparing to a new worker here.

        So yea, the factory wants cheap skilled labor, and are hoping to get it because of a lousy economy. The wages will sort themselves out. Either they will raise their wages, or they will use their complaints to get more H1B visas.

  6. It’s hard to compete for a job in America when Republicans have sent so many of them to China.

  7. Captain Obvious says:

    If you’re doing a job, you’re already in trouble. Showing up, following instructions, sticking to the spec – that’s a job. Someone or something will always do your job better and cheaper.

  8. Alex says:

    You know that a country is in decadence when a discussion about jobs and salaries start mentioning McDonalds …

  9. DUH! says:

    Like the saying goes:

    Those who can – DO.
    Those who can’t – TEACH!

    The problem these days is THEY’RE ALL TEACHING BUSINESS, LAW, OR ECONOMICS! It’s so damn funny that these educated geniuses can’t see “the problem” staring right back at them in the MIRROR.

    So, “Can I have some ketchup with those fries?”

    • Gwad his own self says:

      So you’re saying that you are completely self-taught? OR that you’re as stupid as your stupidest teacher?

  10. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    The Big 3 are going to have to start raising wages for entry level workers. I think it’s about twice the minimum wage.

    Also, factories in the rust belt need people moving back to their areas from the sun belt. Buffalo, Pittsburgh, & Cleveland have lost 50% of their population from 1950-2000.

    • kjb434 says:


      Do the common sense thing and give the job to people are willing to work for the actually value of the job.

      There is a reason U.S. manufactures send jobs oversees. U.S. customers are not willing to pay for their products if they are made in the U.S.

      If a car was completely built in the U.S. with no outside manufacturing, it would easily cost two time if not more than they currently do.

      Ever wonder why Japanese and German automakers build car manufacturing in the U.S. It’s too expense to build it in there own countries.

  11. Gildersleeve says:

    Of course there’s a pay to skills gap. The only measure of skills-value are employers, who of course use “the market” as the measuring stick. The market means “you get what you can negotiate”, and most of us suck at negotiation. There used to be a counterbalance to the “mindless market”; the trade union. Trade unions used to guarantee that their memberships actually had basic skills in whatever they were representing. Some unions still provide this but since most are simply negotiation machines, this trust has been lost. The outcome of the past election also proves that the public has lost trust in our private institutions as well, and is willing to cede power back over to government, of all things, to act as a counterbalance. So, everyone sees the problem, dances around the problem, but no one acts because no one trusts. Private industry believes it has an ace up it’s sleeve – offshoring. Why negotiate when there are communists out there, willing to work cheap? Any idiot can see where THIS will lead, yet we keep marching down that road. Slouching toward Gomorrah, indeed.

  12. Jason says:

    All of you are so dense!!!

    None of you see the root cause of all this!!!

    The existence of minimum wages!!!!

    The issue is not that the people for skilled jobs are not paid enough, the issue is that those who are in NON-skilled jobs are paid far TOO much!!!

    • Sea Lawyer says:

      Speaking of that, apparently the union that is attempting to claw its way into Walmart has said that people whose job is to just put shit on shelves should be paid twice the minimum wage.

    • kjb434 says:


      But somehow minimum wage proponents think that it should be “livable wage”. A made up term that is used to pull at heart strings and based in no economic reality.

      If you earn minimum wage, it should be extremely tough to live on it. It should be shameful so you’ll want to better yourself.

      Also, minimum wage was intended for teenagers, but unions and government regulation has made it all but impossible to employ teens like businesses use to.

      • msbpodcast says:

        Right… Who cares if our teenagers don’t have the normal and biologically ordained number of limbs or fingers.

        Let them all fight like cats and dogs for the one manager position per <name of fast food joint here>.

        Maybe there should not be any livable wages at all. We should all be living in company dorms or sleeping under stars.

        See how long that lasts…

  13. Lou says:

    $ 10 an hour was a shitty job 30 years ago.

    • Sea Lawyer says:

      Back when the Big 3 were paying $45 an hour to show up hung over to bolt a bumper on a car that was going to break down before you got to 50k miles?

  14. no spam says:

    Corporate america lost the ability to effectively hire the best people for a given job when universities started offering masters programs in human resource management. People with those degrees are the clowns who institute polices that make sure hiring managers never see all of the applicants. Little gems like not having a job currently or a billing dispute with the cable or phone company disqualifying someone from getting an interview.

    Between that and the practice of making the job requirements impossible for anyone to meet as an excuse for importing another H1B, and you get a lot of the mess we have today.

    • msbpodcast says:

      It starts with the unreality of the term human resource.

      Staff come out of the liability side of the balance sheet, unless you’re keeping some indentured slaves in your basement.

      I have never met anyone, (usually low-wage earning females after all, its only a staff position,) working in HR who could even begin to understand the nuances of the job I actually did. (They only knew that I used a cane and that set off insurance cost alarms for them, so toss that application in the circular file.)

  15. cjohnson says:

    That picture depicts a OSHA/MSHA nightmare! The place should be shutdown and all workers sent home until it is brought into compliance.

  16. Ziggy says:

    Bottom feeders is what this economy is good at making. The one’s on top and middle are the one’s that are either clueless or have their hands tried.

  17. msbpodcast says:

    Some of the people I used to manage right here in downtown New York City moved to India to work for the firm that took over the off-shore out-sourcing of their jobs.

    They’re living like kings out there for the same amount of dollars so its not like there was an actual cost savings to the enterprise(s) that they used to work for.

    The twelve hour time difference and the logistical nightmare of software development and testing out of the close office environment has made the entire process less responsive and less secure.

    They’re essentially doing the same thing for more money but its coming out of a different budget line item and has some tax advantages.

    Get rid of the tax advantage and the off-shore work will come right back here, and the people will move back here, (but it’ll cost you relocation expense … from India. 🙂 )

  18. Mike lub says:

    Fact is that our manufacturing workforce is overpaid for the level of skill required to push a button every 30 seconds. Average line worker earns a bit less than $30/hour = $62,400.

    Examples of professions that require extensive education and skill:
    ER Nurse that helps save your life: $50,000
    Architect that designs a hospital: $41,000
    Engineer that designs a bridge : $55,000
    Teacher that teaches your kids: $50,000
    Police officer that could get shot: : $40,000

    Something is wrong with this…..

    • Gwad his own self says:

      When it comes down to it, playing a piano is merely pushing buttons. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

      Knowing which button to press, and when, can be a valuable skill. Just look where it got George Jetson.

    • jpfitz says:

      What button pusher gets 30 dollars an hour?

      My local police get paid over 100 grand.
      Teachers in my school district earn around 100 grand.

      I am a CNC programmer and first class machinist, I don’t make anywhere near the dollars I mentioned above. Maybe if I worked 70 to 80 hours, maybe then I could make 80 grand. Remember that I had to start at the bottom sweeping floors and cleaning machines. Most of today’s youth don’t want to get their hands dirty or work repetitive boring jobs.

      Remember that the dollars paid per hour have never caught the increase in living. So… just getting by is the motto. Don’t forget who makes all those weapons for the DoD. Machinists.

  19. Uncle Patso says:

    The signal-to-noise ratio in these comments is so low it’s hard to measure.

    Are all the skilled commenters busy writing How-To articles for websites that pay $1 per page?

    C’mon, people, engage the brains and step up!

    • hmeyers says:

      This might be one of the most crisp comments I’ve read here in a while. [Tips hat towards]

  20. JimD says:

    Yeah, RobMe and the Repukes HATE LABOR and think American Workers should be paid NO MORE THAN CHINESE SLAVE LABORERS !!! The Repukes have been ATTACKING LABOR SINCE THERE HAS BEEN A LABOR MOVEMENT – BACK TO THE LATE 1800’S !!! Any Worker who votes for a Repuke is just giving them a KNIFE TO STAB YOU IN THE BACK WITH !!!

    • MikeN says:

      The labor movement was effective at lowering black employment levels.

      • deowll says:

        Well something has sure gone bad since then. They lead the nation in not having a job.

    • hmeyers says:

      What kind of comments is this really?

      In a global market, the USA isn’t an island.

      Your wrath should not be based on domestic class warfare arguments — they have no basis in reality because this is not a sealed and firewalled economy like the 1930s.

      If you going to make that argument, you better be upset at trade agreements like NAFTA that make Mexican labor costs relevant to USA wages and production costs.

  21. sargasso_c says:

    A skills shortage as defined by an employer is a cynical, euphemistic plea for cheaper skilled labor. It usually comes just before a government review of immigration policy.

  22. Bob73 says:

    The problem becomes pretty obvious if one charts both wages and cost-of-living over the past thirty years.

  23. Glenn E. says:

    As Dvorak once pointed out, many of these “unfilled” jobs claims are bogus. That there’s a benefit to corporations for filling such false job numbers, that they have no intent of filling by offering a decent skilled wage.

    I ran into something similar, working at a large industrial plant. They announced layoffs, unless junior employees went out and got two year degrees. But were not going to adjust work schedules to allow for consistent college hours. Nor did they even wait two years before laying us off. So it was all totally bogus labor contract promises. And then they maintained a handful of crappy janitor jobs. For the purpose of claiming they offered work. But when refused, had the excuse for denying pensions. Which they did with me, even though they never even offer the crappy “unskilled” job.

    I’d probably be injured by poor safety practices, if they had. I don’t imagine many work as janitors, for too long. I valued my health, more than being a stubborn employee, who wouldn’t quit. So I’m glad I missed out on that. But once again, and big corporation broke its own contracted rules. To save itself paying some pensions. And the precious Labor Union, I paid into, did nothing to protect my interests. They likely signed off on it, to save their most senior members’ paychecks and pensions. Something all labor union should confess is their only interest. And stop pretending to the rest of the rank and file, that it’s not.

    In case you were wondering, that plant I worked at made steel. Something we import more and more from China, now. But slave labor beats the more expensive American and European steel, every time. So even state governments opt for the cheaper China product. And labor unions say nothing about it.

  24. MikeN says:

    Well, they can get their hours cut to 30 a week, so that the factory can avoid paying Obamacare penalties. Already, we are seeing a Pennsylvania Community College do just that. They have cut adjunct professors to 25 hours a week, so they don’t have to provide health care. Plus, the people whose hours are cut to 25 a week are now mandated to buy health insurance which itself gets more expensive because of all the mandated coverages.

  25. John Nash Rambler says:

    a. The Democrats are to blame. They’re commies.

    b. The Republicans are to blame. They’re Nazis.

    c. Oh, this is Dvorak Uncensored. The answer MUST be a or b.

    d. z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z

  26. MikeN says:

    So, will people realize that this applies to low-skill jobs as well? Or are they going to keep insisting that immigrants do jobs Americans won’t do?

    Perhaps the manufaturers are keeping wages low because they see that people like Paul Krugman are insisting on amnesty and open borders that will bring in millions of workers to keep wages low.

  27. Proud Alien says:

    Well, dear skilled Yankees, at least in my area of expertise (ERP consulting), there is indeed a shortage of skilled workers, US citizens or foreign. It’s been like this for a while, long enough that some smart college grads manage get up to speed on an application in demand and start making low 6 figures soon after graduation. None of my foreign friends and acquaintances is unemployed or underpaid. And yes, I do have a few US natives with soft skills (marketing, geography majors, etc.) who have been without work for extended period of times.

    • ERP_GUY says:

      Along with my ITIL and SOA certifications and 25 + years experience with transaction processing systems, large enterprise integration and consulting. I get calls from recruiters; mostly, shall we say, “out of towners”, looking for an ERP guru with a laundry list of skills and don’t want to pay dick for them. I have been offered travel assignments for as low as 35 per hour 1099 with no per diem. Which I promptly turn down. Sorry dude, not all of us can survive on a third world income. There is not a shortage of skilled people in this and other fields. There is a shortage of cheap people with these skills. It’s kind of like someone wanting to buy a 2012 Porche Boxter for a hundred bucks then complains that there is a shortage when he can’t find one.
      When you say “6 figures” are you including numbers to the right of the decimal point?


Bad Behavior has blocked 5389 access attempts in the last 7 days.