Despite High Unemployment, Some Jobs Still Empty

Staggering unemployment rates would mean that vacant jobs are filling up at a fast pace, right? Not so.

Even though millions of people are out of work, some businesses can't fill certain positions, particulary those at the top or bottom of the pay scale. This is contributing to the halt on the economy.

Economists cite several reasons for this conundrum. One reason is that when mass layoffs occurred, many of the first people to be let go were middle-of-the-road employees. These people made a good wage and had moderate skills. However, they may not be qualified to apply for the vacancies in management or higher-salary positions. Nor are they anxious to take a step down and earn less than what they were making in previous positions -- sometimes much less.

Another factor in unfilled positions is that some former workers have simply become complacent while collecting unemployment checks. Since unemployment benefits were extended to 99 weeks, individuals see no rush in looking for work while there are still slim pickings. Those who have scaled back expenses may be faring well enough with the income generated through unemployment benefits, particularly if there is another member of the household still contributing income.

Housing dilemmas are another issue possibly affecting the job market. As the employment rates dipped, a parallel drop in the housing market occurred as well. Many individuals are unable to afford to move to another city or town to apply for open jobs. That's because houses are simply not selling quickly, and when they do, they may sell for less than many homeowners owe on current mortgages. People are forced to stay put for the time being.

Companies offering middle-level positions seem to see the most applicants, so much so that hiring managers are often flooded with resumes. However, specialized positions are remaining empty much longer. That's because when applications do arrive, many of the potential hires are simply not qualified.

For the people who do have the skills and are willing to take a pay cut, sometimes the job is refused by the company itself. Take for example, Joan, an IT professional from New York. In June 2010, Joan was laid off from a managerial position with a top corporation in a help-desk capacity. After applying for several positions -- many of which were offering lower salaries than Joan was making -- she was still unable to land a new job. The reason? Human resource personnel indicated that Joan was simply overqualified, and it would be a waste of her assets.

Those looking for work and finding they're coming up against brick walls may want to consider a few options.

* Be flexible in pay and apply for jobs that may offer lower salaries. Remember, the chance for advancement may eventually come as the economy rebounds.

* Consider taking training courses to advance skill sets in a particular speciality. This could enable one to apply for more advanced-level positions.

* Keep in contact with former employers. They may call good workers back when the finances become available.

* Avoid complacency when unemployment checks roll in. This income serves as assistance in difficult times. It shouldn't replace the need to look for work, and it won't be around forever.