The Urgency for Real Time Data


This is a series of keynote summaries from the virtual 60th Annual C2ER Conference and LMI Institute Forum held June 1 – 5, 2020.

The C2ER/LMI Institute (Virtual) Annual Conference ran its second live session of the week on The Urgency for Real Time Data (Tuesday, June 2). More real time labor market and workforce information can inform both the COVID response and recovery, addressing reopening and retraining policies. Traditional data sources are often published with a time lag, and new sources of data are needed to understand the rapid change and to move forward with more timely and accurate projection of trends.

Josh Wright, director of economic and workforce development at Emsi, shared examples of real-time data uses: eIMPACT’s study of real-time changes of seated diners to show the impact of the pandemic on restaurants and total daily traveler throughput by the Transportation Security Administration to show changes in travel as the result of global lockdowns, and Emsi’s Skills Match data application, which displays skills that are available (from their inventory of professional profiles) and skills that are in demand (from job postings) for sub-state regions. sourced from job postings and professional profiles, is added to company-level data and put into a regional context to match jobseekers with opportunities. This real-time data allows for jobseekers to be more purposeful in their reemployment strategies, and for employers to connect with those who have the skills that they are looking for.

Cameron Macht, acting assistant director of the Labor Market Office of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), highlighted the ways that real-time data was being used in Minnesota. While DEED typically tracks monthly unemployment claims, the dramatic spike in US unemployment (14.7% in April 2020) called for new county-level daily and weekly unemployment insurance statistics. The information includes demographic details, such as age, education, gender, veteran status, and race and ethnicity to better understand who is being affected by the pandemic. DEED supplies a list of occupations in demand, with median wage, education requirements, and on-the-job training requirements, during the pandemic to help jobseekers. This real-time data allows for Minnesota policy makers to see where COVID-19 has hit the hardest and what areas need to be targeted for economic stimulus and recovery efforts.

Program manager at the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), Emma Northcott shared about the National Labor Exchange (NLx).  In collaboration with the National Science Foundation, NLx created the NLx Research Hub, a national open ecosystem of real-time jobseekers and employers. Through categorization of job postings, matching resumes based on skills and credentials, building tools to inform job seekers about training programs for local in-demand jobs, the Research Hub provides insights into the economy and labor market representation. By using real-time data, NLx can begin help employers more quickly locate talent, bring the right data to state workforce agencies to plan for recessions, and assist local communities who are suffering as a result of the pandemic.

As administrative resources, web-scraping, and data visualization tools make for an increased ability to deliver high-quality and real-time data, customers will benefit from new insights. The presenters agreed that the movement toward real-time data could help people make smart decisions, identify trends, and in a time of a global pandemic, be an important component of policies and economic recovery.

To learn more or revisit the panel, a recording of the session is available to conference attendees through the Whova platform.