Mike Rowe warns of ‘wildly off balance’ workforce after jobs report

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe on Wednesday reacted to a report showing that 11 million jobs are still open in the U.S. ahead of a Thursday report showing that jobless claims fell to their lowest level in 52 years, warning that the American workforce is at risk of becoming “wildly out of balance.”

In an appearance with Fox Business’ Stuart Varney, Rowe, who himself hosts “How America Works” on the network, said, “We have to do a more persuasive job of making a case for the opportunities that exist” as a means of getting more people to take open positions.

“And if we don’t, we’re going to have a workforce that is wildly out of balance with itself,” he added.

In October, the number of open positions nearly reached the same level of jobs open in July, which was a record, according to the Labor Department’s most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey.

Rowe said that these numbers are sending a “fundamental” message to the country.

“Of all the things we’re not in charge of, one of the things we can control is the definition of a good job,” Rowe said. “When we elevate certain jobs, then we can’t help but denigrate others. When we deem some vocations essential, we can’t help but tacitly deem others nonessential.”

He went on to say that perception and language regarding certain industries can play a huge role in attracting people to work in them.

“Let’s confront some of the stigmas, some of the stereotypes, the myths and the misperceptions that keep people from pursuing the very positions that are currently open,” he told Varney, host of “Varney & Co.”

He said some of the neediest industries for workers at the moment are some of the same ones that are under attack by various political elements.

“Oil, fossil fuels, lumber, salt, steel,” Rowe listed, “These are hugely important to us and every single one of those industries right now, never, ever before has the recruiting crisis been so keen.”

He went on to note that while some of the left argue that businesses aren’t paying enough and some on the right say that Americans are becoming too lazy, meeting somewhere in the middle will go a long way towards solving the country’s labor issues.

“It’s the respectability and the status of the job in question,” Rowe said.

Rowe also noted that his nonprofit organization, mikeroweWORKS Foundation, is replete with examples of “modestly” assisting Americans who are looking to learn a trade as a career.

“We have 1,400 examples of people that we’ve helped that have literally learned a skill that’s in demand and have gone on to prosper,” Rowe told Varney. “So part of what I think we have to do in order to turn this ship around is tell their stories.”

He went on to cite one example: A young lady his foundation helped become a welder who is “making six figures” now.

Jon Dougherty


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