The past four or five years have been a particularly painful time for many people in the trades. A dramatic economic recession, followed by a slow and grueling rebound that seemed to favor technological expertise over blue-collar work that has left the field a little grey around the temple.

However, a new report put out by the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco should count as good news for people who’ve either been laid off from their jobs in the trades, or who are looking to re-hire empty positions: Most new hires in the U.S., regardless of the field, are switching industries.

“If the weakness in the labor market isn’t due to permanent changes that will keep workers unemployed, that gives the U.S. Federal Reserve more room to take actions that could help bring down the jobless rate,” wrote Kristina Peterson on the Wall Street Journal‘s website.

That sounds a little strange at first, but the paper argues that in fact people today are changing careers at an astounding rate, leaving one field behind for another. This sea change means that what has been pointed to lately as a skills mis-match in the economy — not enough qualified workers for open positions — isn’t really the problem at all. It isn’t that there aren’t enough young people qualified to be electricians, for instance. It’s that most of the people being hired on as electricians come from a different background, and so the entire process of hiring has to be slowed down as they come aboard.

Further, it means that people who’ve been laid off in the recent past and are having trouble finding work in their own field should start broadening their job searches.

Per the Journal:

  • “That’s a promising sign for construction workers who were laid off when their industry slumped during the recession, to take one example. They made up 2.3 percent of hires in other industries and 5.5 percent of the unemployed who found new jobs, according to the analysis. “Thus, as the overall labor market recovers, these workers are likely to find jobs outside of construction.”

More: Despite Economic Recovery, Survey Shows IT Service Techs Pessimistic.

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ABOUT Ian Stewart

Avatar photoIan is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.