A new report finds companies in Jersey and across the country are having a tougher time finding skilled workers to fill job vacancies.

The survey – conducted by the staffing firm Manpower Group – finds more than 50 percent of firms are struggling to find qualified workers for available positions.

Carl Van Horn, the Director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University says the trend is actually positive because it indicates “there’s less people to be hired- there’s less applicants per job- that’s an improvement – I think we know the economy is slowly clawing its way back.”

He says “it shows employers have been able to choose from a bounty of talented workers for a couple of years – where they could also offer lower wages and salaries and were still getting very qualified applicants – but now that’s changing…there’s probably fewer qualified workers for every job, therefore employers probably have to work a bit harder and pay a bit more to attract people.”

At the same time Van Horn points out “many workers are not as mobile as they were in this recession – reason is because they can’t sell their homes, or can’t afford to – in either case they can’t afford to move to where the jobs are…they live too far away from where the job openings are – and in past recessions they would have been able to sell their house and move – even if they didn’t want to – to find work- now that’s much harder.”

He says “there were lots of jobs lost in manufacturing and the construction industry – and some of those workers will have difficulty transitioning to openings in other fields – partially because it requires a certain amount of education and training to make that transition…but over-all employers are looking for more workers- that’s a good thing – the supply of qualified workers is diminishing and therefore the hunt for the best qualified worker becomes more difficult for employers.”