In November, the Department of Labor released data that showed there were over 7 million job openings in the U.S., the highest monthly total dating back to the summer of 2001. As of November, about every sector had an increasing number of job openings. Project activity is slowing in some sectors because the skills gap has now turned into a body gap. Simply put, there are not enough people in the U.S. to fill 7 million jobs. Not even close. In fact, the number of job openings has outnumbered the total number of people unemployed in the country every month so far this year and that counts millions who are not employable.
Many economists believe of the 6.5 million unemployed in this country, only 1.5 million are employable, factoring in the retired who are age 64 or younger, those 16 years of age or older who are still in school, the addicted, family caretakers and the disabled. That being said, that means we have over 7 million job openings for about 1.5 million employable people without a job who want one.
The labor crunch is affecting one industry in particular. The petrochemical and oil and gas industries in the South have seen project totals of $30 million or more in investment drop from a high of 70 in 2015 to 27 projects in 2017. The money is there for more petro deals, but the workers aren’t. In Louisiana and Texas, many petro deals are simply delayed, waiting for a project to be completed before the labor can move on to another project.