While America’s economy seems to be recovering from the recession, many labor analysts are calling it a “jobless recovery” because the growth in output is not accompanied by a growth in employment. In some places, the unemployment rate has not changed significantly since the height of the recession.

Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers indicate that last October’s unemployment rate in Sacramento was at 9.8 percent. It has remained consistently higher than overall U.S. figures which are listed at 7.9 percent as of October 2012. Part of the reason, according to the Federal Reserve, may be because of widening skills gaps – the gap between the skills necessary for a job and the skills possessed by job seekers.

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Sacramento job seekers may wish to know how the presumed skills gap affects three of the faster-growing local career paths — those of the nursing, security and criminal justice fields.


A few years ago, the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) was concerned about a possible long-term shortage of registered nurses (RNs). Many baby-boomer RNs were either retiring or planning to retire soon, and comparable numbers of new nurses were not on track to enter the job market in time.

A recent forecast for the BRN shows that the California picture has improved since those early warnings. More baby boomers stayed in their jobs during the recession, and the number of nursing school graduates has more than doubled.

In the distant future, a shortage of RNs may still occur. This will depend largely on whether secondary schools are adequately preparing students for the increasingly technological rigors of nursing school.


One of the hottest areas of job growth in California has been in the private security area. The number of people seeking to become security guards has doubled since 2005, according to Jeffrey Mason, Chief of the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), which licenses security guards.

The number of people actually finding full-time or part-time work as security guards increased during the recession. This may be due in part to the loss of countless mid-level jobs that required more education, training or advanced skills. Many displaced Sacramento workers chose to seek employment in fields like security that did not necessitate extensive or expensive retraining.

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Unarmed security workers generally only require a license, commonly known as a guard card, which they can get from the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. The guard card costs $50 every two years, with an additional one-time $49 fee for fingerprinting for the initial application.

BSIS requires only eight hours of training before a person can begin working as a security guard. They then must receive at least 16 additional hours of training within the first 30 days of their employment and at least another 16 hours of training during their first six months of employment.

Many Sacramento communities, especially gated communities, are using security guards from private patrol operators as the first line of defense for deterring crime.

Criminal Justice

Jobs that are traditionally thought of as being part of the criminal justice field are not predicted to grow in the very near term. The state’s Employment Development Department estimates there will be 2,670 annual job openings in all of California for police and sheriff’s patrol officers between now and 2020.

However, non-patrol jobs are likely on a more upward trajectory in the Sacramento area. In mid-January, California Governor Jerry Brown swore to fight prior rulings aiming to reduce the number of inmates in overcrowded state prisons. A release of state prisoners to county facilities or rehabilitation programs would require a quick influx of fully trained correctional officers, counselors, health workers and more to local facilities.

According to the CDCR, more than 106,000 California felons were on parole as of 2009, each requiring a large amount of management and follow up. If large numbers of state prisoners are simply released back into the community, the number of skilled parole and probation workers that are needed will likely make a commensurate jump.

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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