Skills Mismatch and Opportunity Gaps: An Analysis of Skills Development and Equity in the New Jersey Labor Market

Ali Naim Butt, Brandon Espana, Hassan Khurshid, Jonathan Teters, Yingchen Zhang

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The current period of economic instability resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the New Jersey economy and labor market, with negative impacts felt more harshly by women and minority groups. With millions forced from their primary field of employment, workers may find themselves working in industries improperly matched to their educational qualifications. Evidence suggests that this discrepancy between the supply and demand of labor persists following recessions. Identifying patterns in skills development following the previous recession, the Great Recession of 2008, may therefore predict how New Jersey’s labor market will develop during future economic recovery, and will allow policymakers to determine whether issues of talent development or equity are primarily responsible for continued post-recessionin efficiencies in the workforce. Through the use of the New Jersey Education to Earnings Data System (NJEEDS) and State Occupation Projections from the US Department of Labor, this report investigates mismatch between education o fthe workforce and in-demand fields of employment in New Jersey with an equity lens in order to develop solutions to the issues of supply and demand of labor during and after the COVID-19 recession.