As Congress debates an extension of unemployment benefits in the midst of a national jobless rate of over 7%, there are actually many jobs to be had.  Nationwide, there are nearly 4 million job openings that, if filled, could put a serious dent in that unemployment rate.  The problem, according to experts, is matching the employers' needs with the skills and availability of job seekers.  "What we're running into is a mismatch of skills, and I think that's going to go on for a good long time," says Gerry Burns with Manpower Houston.  "The jobs that are really needed, both here and across the nation, are welders and machinists and some of the more traditional jobs that people don't want to go for anymore."

The need for those "traditional" types of jobs is ever present right here in Houston, as well.  "In Houston, we are the number one manufacturing city in the country, and I think a lot of people don't realize that," says Burns.  He tells KTRH the overall jobs and hiring picture here continues to far outpace the rest of the nation.  "Houston led the country last quarter, with 27% more employers saying they planned to hire versus lay off," says Burns.  In addition to manufacturing, other areas of opportunity Burns sees in Houston are engineering and sales.  "There's a real need for sales people who are truly motivated and truly hungry to close sales," he says.

The bottom line for job seekers in Houston and Texas is don't be fooled by the national unemployment rate.  "We're in pretty good shape here," says Burns.  He also lists Dallas, McAllen and El Paso as other Texas markets with positive hiring numbers.  But job seekers still have to do their part to land those openings, according to Burns.  "The key is knowing what skills employers are looking for, and really doing your homework before you jump into a trade school or a university."