Jobs, workforce, education, & labor markets

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  1. Posted May 8, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    For those of us in economic development, it is often a challenge to find the right kind of workforce data, data that is both timely and relevant to private sector decision makers. If we are to fulfill our mission of raising the standard of living for our communities by attracting jobs and investment, then my colleagues and I must demonstrate convincingly the strength of the local and regional workforce. Employers considering business locations should know everything possible about the skills and abilities and costs of labor before a decision is made and capital is deployed. Traditional public data sources like the BLS’ Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) are helpful, but lagging and lacking in detail. Vendors at the Innovative Data Sources Conference present some powerful alternatives. Two, in particular, strike me as most valuable to economic developers: EMSI and Burning Glass.

    EMSI offers a tool that goes well beyond covered industry “payroll” employment and the standard state and metro-area occupational employment and wage data. EMSI combines multiple state and federal sources to provide a complete employment picture that includes the self-employed, agricultural workers, and others not captured by basic payroll data. Regional occupational data is also available and customizable to fit a user-defined geography. Data include average earnings median and percentile wages, unemployment as well as demographic data like population and educational attainment. Rather than spending hours collecting and analyzing data that might be incomplete, the economic development analyst can use EMSI’s user-friendly interface and feel confident he’s presenting the strongest case to a prospective employer.

    Burning Glass’ Labor/Insight tool is also impressive. Whereas typical occupational employment data describe the occupations in an area, as defined by the Standard Occupaitonal Classification (SOC) system, Burning Glass reports on the exact skills, qualifications, and certifications employers are asking for in their jobs postings, including tallies by job, skill, qualification, degree, certification, salary level, and experience level. And when connected to supply data from State UI claimant information, Labor/Insight can provide a level of detail about the available workforce that otherwise would be unknown.

    Both of these could be a boon to productivity in my office, saving time and enabling a more complete and compelling demonstration of the strengths of our regional labor markets.

    A big thanks to the conference organizers.

  2. Posted May 9, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I’m excited about the “near-real-time” data available from Burning Glass, Monster, Wanted Analytics, etc. The use of screen-scraping technology with natural language processing to create metadata on the fly, and to make large-scale labor-market data available so quickly, provides all kinds of potential avenues for planning and research.

    A potential opportunity is validation. Obviously, government agencies can’t release such data as official statistics. How do statistical data differ from such “live” data sources? How can they reinforce one another? Can we use “live” data to fill in gaps, or especially to inform the taxonomies used in government datasets?