The national unemployment rate has ranged between 9 to 10 percent for nearly three years, representing 14-15 million workers and another 8-9 million workers that are considered underemployed. The unemployment rate for the manufacturing industry jumped from 8.3 percent in December 2008 to a high of 13.0 percent in January 2010, but has ranged from a high of 9.9 percent in January 2011 to a low of 8.9 percent in August. We have lost more than 5.5 million manufacturing jobs in the past decade, and over 57,000 manufacturing companies have gone out of business. Aren't there enough workers who lost jobs to fill the needs of companies that have survived and are now experiencing the recovery of the manufacturing industry? With over 20 million unemployed or underemployed workers, why is there a lack of skilled workers? The main reasons for the lack of workers with the specific skills needed by today's higher technology manufacturers are: Unemployed workers mainly come from industries that have been decimated by offshoring Fewer people choosing manufacturing as a career choice because of poor image Attrition from retirement that is getting worse as baby boomers start to retire First of all, a large percentage of the people who lost their jobs came out of industries that have been decimated by the offshoring of manufacturing -- textiles, furniture, tires, sporting goods, and the garment industry just to name a few. For example, the garment district in New York City has virtually disappeared, and now there is only one company left that makes gloves -- LaCrasia Gloves. An added blow was the decimation of the automobile and auto parts industry during the Great Recession when North American auto production dropped from an average of 14-15 million vehicles per year down to below 10 million vehicles in 2008. Most of these industries were dominated by large manufacturers employing hundreds to thousands of workers in plants located in the northeast, Midwest, and south. They either worked on assembly lines or utilized specific skills suited to their industries. In some cases, a textile plant, furniture plant, or automotive plant was the only large employer in the town. When the plant closed, workers either had to take whatever other job they could find or relocate to another area. If they were over the age of 55, they were fortunate to find a job at all. In most cases, these workers didn't have the specific skills needed in high-tech manufacturing industries. When the manufacturing industry seems to be in a nationwide downward spiral, workers don't even know where to relocate to find other types of manufacturing jobs. And, if their spouse still has a good job, there is no incentive to move to where there might be an opportunity for another manufacturing job. For example, I'm sure that only residents in the region are aware that German industrial corporation AG Siemens has a new plant in Charlotte, North Carolina and is hiring nearly 900 workers. read more Michele Nash-Hoff: Why is There a Lack of Skilled Workers With Such High Unemployment?