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Why Can’t People Find Work? Lack of Relevant Skills


More than half of Americans (54%) agree that employable adults aren’t working today because they don’t possess the skills they need for the jobs they want, according to the results of a new American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® survey conducted online by The Harris Poll.

The other top reasons Americans believe job seekers can’t find employment—or have even entirely stopped looking for work—are:

  • Few jobs are available in their specific field, trade, or skill set (45%)
  • Limited job opportunities exist where they live (33%)
  • They require a job with flexible working hours (26%)
  • They are too discouraged to keep looking (24%)

Americans are divided when asked if they think the U.S. is currently a job seekers’ market or an employers’ market. After being offered definitions, four in 10 (44%) say it is a job seekers’ market—where there are many opportunities available—while a similar proportion (38%) say it is an employers’ market—where opportunities for jobs seekers are limited.

“The ASA Workforce Monitor found that despite the tightest job market in history, the public perceives that many people can’t find work due to a skills gap,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “This gap is real, but with close to seven million job openings in America, it’s clearly a job seeker’s market with an abundance of opportunity.”

To learn more about the ASA Workforce Monitor, visit You can also follow ASA research on Twitter.


The Harris Poll conducted the survey online within the U.S. on behalf of ASA, Nov. 7–9, 2018, among a total of 2,021 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Results were weighted on age, education, race/ethnicity, household income, and geographic region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population.


About the American Staffing Association (ASA)

The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit

About the ASA Workforce Monitor

The ASA Workforce Monitor is a periodic survey commissioned by ASA and conducted online by The Harris Poll among 2,000 or more U.S. adults age 18 and older. The survey series focuses on current workforce trends and issues. For more information about the survey series, visit

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 and is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm.

ASA Workforce MonitorNearly half of employed U.S. job seekers (49%) believe AI tools used in job recruiting are more biased than their human counterparts. View the results & download the infographics »
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