I don't know that I would say that. At this point, there just aren't enough jobs. I'm sure that in some sectors, there's a mismatch. But frankly, there are lots of people out there with good skills, or skills that could be adapted for something else, but they're not being hired.

Is self-employment a viable option these days?

That's a very interesting problem. … Some people turn to self-employment, but less so in this recession than others, for two reasons. One is the economy is just bad. … But the thing that makes this recession different and is a real, real problem across the board is credit. If you're self-employed, you can't get credit from anybody. So you're not going to turn to that as an option because it means you can't get any personal credit, never mind any credit to start your personal business.

Your research touched on Maryland's workforce development effort, the "one-stop career center" system, which aims to put the unemployed back to work. Is that on target for these economic times?

It's not. And there are two reasons that it's not. The first one is that — and this isn't just Maryland, this is federal — there have been cuts and more cuts and more cuts to that workforce development system. And so at this point, the one-stops are essentially self-service. They do these little workshops, they theoretically have counselors, but there just aren't enough staff to help all of these people.

And the other thing, which is very clear — and this is again federal, it's not state, although I think state to a large extent echoes the federal [government] — is for years and years and years, all of the programs have [focused on] special populations, mostly those without high school or special training.

There really isn't much other than to tell people not to put all their experience on their resumes that these folks can do [for educated, older workers].

How could the workforce development system be changed to better help today's unemployed workers?

First of all, obviously, these programs need to be beefed up. If they're hiring, and they're hiring from among those folks who are unemployed professionals, that's helping.

Developing networks to peers who are employed [would also make sense]. That would involve really going out there and getting a cadre of volunteers — in fields where you've got a lot of unemployed people — who are employed, who are willing to help these people make connections to jobs that actually exist. That kind of peer-to-peer support, I think, is important.

It may also be providing incentives to employers to hire these folks — paying for their health insurance. It may be creating credit and a way to pool things for self-employment. Lots of things could be done.


twitter.com/realestatewonk An earlier version of this story misstated Jo Anne Schneider's academic affiliation.

  • Text BUSINESS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun Business text alerts