As a young journalist, I learned that some of the most interesting stories are what one editor called the "hole in the doughnut" articles that demonstrate the exceptions to well-reported trends.
Here's a Washington Post story that fits that bill. At a time when high unemployment is often the headline, one sector where the job supply apparently exceeds the number of job seekers is work that requires security clearances, especially top secret ones.
As the WaPo explains, companies that win government contracts that involve access to classified information usually have deadlines that don't allow them to wait several months to have an employee without a security clearance obtain one.
So they look to hire people who already possess such clearances, especially top secret clearances, the toughest to get.
"There's been an increasing demand for people and they're needed right away," said Jim Gattuso, director of recruiting for CSC, a major defense contractor. He's looking to fill about 100 jobs that require cleared personnel for a variety of contract work for the Pentagon and intelligence agencies.
"You don't have time to go to the marketplace and find people who have the technical skills but don't have clearances because that takes too long," he said."You get task orders from the government and they want them filled — and fast - so that puts all the contractors under some degree of pressure to get staff quickly. It creates a supply and demand inequity and it means paying a premium."
The story goes on to make the point that the local economy of the nation's capital has benefited greatly from this phenomenon.
Home prices and sales in some parts of the DC suburbs would be the envy of most other metropolitan areas because of the earning power of thousands of people in the local economy with security clearances.
Economists say the high salaries and the demand for cleared personnel has helped buoy the D.C. area's economy.
"Other metropolitan areas don't have this kind of business anywhere near to the same degree we do," said Stephen Fuller, a local economist. "This has emerged since 9/11 and the main benefit of it is the boost of payroll."
One of the best parts about this kind of work is it can't be outsourced overseas since you must be a U.S. citizen to get the needed clearances.