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Why Can’t the Middle Class Find Good Jobs if There Are So Many Job Openings?

A man sells clothes on the street

A man sells clothes on the street A man sells clothes on the street because he can’t find a job — despite a high level of job vacancies. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Jobs, jobs, jobs — this is what we’ve been promised for years now. Job creation and economic growth were a lynchpin topic for President Donald Trump, who has promised jobs to those in economically disadvantaged areas. Those promises helped win him the White House, despite the fact that the unemployment rate was below 5% upon his inauguration. But we know a lot of people are still struggling.

Millions of middle-class Americans are still out of work, despite the fact that we have the highest number of job vacancies on record. The latest economic reports show as of June 2017, there are more open jobs in the economy since the turn of the millennium. That means there are jobs out there, but for some reason people aren’t getting them. Why not?

There’s a complicated mix of reasons. Some people have grown so despondent that they’re permanently out of the workforce. Others aren’t qualified for jobs in the new growth industries, such as tech or health care. And some people did the math and found they’d be better off on government assistance than working a job that pays peanuts. Plus, some employers — many of which are complaining about a lack of qualified, dependable workers — aren’t willing to put more skin in the game.

So why can’t Americans who want jobs find them, despite 6 million job openings? To get the answer, let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on in our economy.