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Massachusetts’ Hinge of Fate

February 22, 2022
By: Gary Beach


When the Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC) launched MATTERS in 2015, the U.S. Skills Gap Misery Index, a human-centric barometric reading that juxtapositions the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Job Opening Labor Turnover” report with the number of unemployed and underemployed persons in America, registered 144. That means that the national economic and personal pain experienced by businesses and individuals was 44% greater than it was when the Index was launched in 2000.

Massachusetts hinge of fate MATTERS MA state house

Seven years later, MHTC is launching a new version of MATTERS. Reflecting the impact of new work models and “The Great Resignation,” the U.S. Skills Gap Misery Index, is now 157. Though this reflects a decline from the readings of close to 250 at the height of the pandemic, the Index confirms there is still great pain in the labor market.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not immune to this pain.

The U.S. Labor Department reports the total civilian workforce in MA is about 3,600,000, while 290,000 jobs languish as “open” jobs across the state. The economic cost of the inability to fill those 290,000 jobs adds up to billions of dollars.

Beacon Hill, we have a problem!

And at the heart of that problem are many perplexing questions regarding our workforce and business conditions.

The new version of MATTERS can help answer them. The latest release of the data platform includes an extraordinary array of data in six vital areas: (1) cost of doing business; (2) quality of life; (3) talent and workforce; (4) tax environment; (5) fiscal stability and public management; and (6) growth and innovation climate.

MATTERS’ usefulness is limited only by one’s imagination and curiosity. Want to drill down just on data for the Commonwealth? Check. Want to compare Massachusetts to other states around the country? Check. Data in this new version of MATTERS will help elected officials, business leaders, and advocates make decisions that could perhaps fill a portion of those 290,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.


Massachusetts at a Crossroads

In 1943, as the outcome of World War II was uncertain, Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Harvard College to address the student body where he warned “the hinge of fate” was in the balance.

So, too, is the future growth trajectory of the Commonwealth in 2022. Will cogent fiscal policy, education systems that embrace diversity and teach “doing” rather than “knowing,” affordable housing options for young workers, and reliable transportation and infrastructure ensure a bright economic and quality of life future for residents and businesses in the Commonwealth? Or will other states and regions poach the state’s talent and economic opportunities?

Here’s a seminal question that needs to be asked across the state. Why did Intel Corporation decide in January 2020 to invest over $20 billion in semiconductor factories in Columbus, Ohio? Was Massachusetts even in the discussion? Some on Beacon Hill will know.

In pondering the answers to those questions, it’s worth considering the wisdom of Klaus Schwab, co-founder of the World Economic Forum, who several years ago proclaimed “talentism is the new capitalism.” The successful economies of the future will be built on institutions that enable a healthy of climate of innovation and forward-thinking workforce development. MATTERS has the potential to help assess and hone that “talentism.”

The new version of MATTERS is not the holy grail for the Commonwealth.

But it is one of the more invaluable resources available to answer some of the most difficult policy questions regarding talent and business in Massachusetts today.

Use it often to help swing the “hinge of fate” in a positive direction for the future of Massachusetts.