May 3, 2018 - Economy

Steve Mnuchin's blind spot on U.S. jobs

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is unaware that many U.S. companies are having difficulties finding enough skilled workers to fill open positions, based on comments he made this week at the Milken Global Conference.

Reality check: Almost anywhere you look, companies of all types report sharp difficulty finding skilled workers. Dallas, Washington State, Shreveport, Prescott, wherever. They are turning to measures they have not taken in years — hiring teenagers and convicts, and paying big signing or moving bonuses.

  • One of the most demanded skills is cybersecurity technician. But there is also a dire shortage of construction workers and truckers. One problem is that companies are a lot less willing than they used to be to train workers so they *become* skilled.

Why it matters: The White House has been laser focused on growing the economy and cutting unemployment, while also proposing cuts to legal immigration. One obvious consequence of that strategy could be even further shortages of skilled labor, which is troubling if the current shortage isn't even acknowledged.

This also isn't the first time that Mnuchin has expressed an inexplicable blind spot when it comes to labor. This is from 2017:

The Treasury Department later walked back those comments, after they were met with incredulity by the tech community. But a Treasury spokesman did not respond to an Axios inquiry on his Milken Conference appearance.

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