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Unemployment Is High,
So Why is it Hard to Find Workers?

“Skills Gap” Hampers Job Growth

Express Employment Professionals Study Reveals Trouble on the Job Front

OKLAHOMA CITY, July 31, 2013 — In the fourth of a series of releases titled “America Employed,” Express Employment Professionals, the nation’s largest privately held staffing firm, revealed that employers want to hire but often can’t find the right people for the jobs due to a “skills gap” in the workforce.

A survey of 264 Express offices across the United States shows that these offices are more than three times more likely to say finding the right person for the job is “somewhat difficult” or “difficult” than they are to say it’s “very easy” or “somewhat easy,” despite an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.

The survey also reveals the difficulty of finding workers — there’s a mismatch between what employers expect from job seekers and what job seekers want from would-be employers, especially in terms of salary and skills.

“Businesses want to hire, but finding workers with the right skills remains a challenge,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

“Due to the skills gap, the unemployment rate is higher than it should be,” Funk noted, two days before the next monthly unemployment figures are released.

“Based on this data, my prescription for getting Americans back to work is two-part. In addition to a stronger economy, we need more training and re-training options for American workers. Second, in the short-term, workers need to be more flexible in the jobs they seek, while employers need to recognize they won’t always find the perfect fit. All these factors are contributing to a stubbornly high unemployment rate,” Funk said.

When asked “how easy is it for you to recruit and fill positions,” only one percent of Express Employment Professionals offices say “very easy” and 19 percent say “somewhat easy.” In contrast, 66 percent say “somewhat difficult” and 12 percent say “very difficult.”

The survey also found that 53 percent of more than 400 U.S. employers say that recruiting and filling positions is “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult.”

Owners were also asked the “primary reason” open jobs are not filled. The following are the top four responses:

1.   Lack of available applicants
2.   Not enough pay offered
3.   Lack of hard skills
4.   Lack of experience

Currently, Express Employment Professionals has 9,860 open positions among more than 600 franchise locations in the U.S., Canada and South Africa.

“America Employed — Insights from Express Employment Professionals” explores the state of employment — and unemployment — in America today. Each edition of “America Employed” focuses on a different aspect of who gets hired in America — and why.


If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Sherry Kast at (405) 717-5966.


About Robert A. Funk
Robert A. “Bob” Funk is chairman, chief executive officer and president of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has more than 675 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than five million people to work worldwide. Funk served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was also the Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

About Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated more than $2.3 billion in temporary sales in 2012 and ranks as the largest privately held staffing agency in the United States. Its goal is to put a million people to work.