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The Jobs Engine

Carl J. Schramm, author of Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity, introduces a lesson in power and the sources of good jobs from The Coming Jobs War: What Every Leader Must Know about the Future of Job Creation, by Jim Clifton.

(originally published by Booz & Company)

Over the past decade, globalization has transformed many aspects of human life, perhaps none so significantly as economic activity. In China, India, the United States, Brazil, and elsewhere, entrepreneurs are among the principal drivers of this transformation, and they are capitalizing on it, too. Today, an entrepreneur in the U.S. can launch a business that is global in scope from the moment of its inception, and entrepreneurs from other countries come to the U.S. to study and start companies, and return home to start still more companies. This “entrepreneurial circulation” benefits everyone. Its full implications, however, have only begun to be understood.

In the excerpt below, Jim Clifton, the chairman of Gallup Inc., identifies what might be the most important consequence of global entrepreneurship: job creation. Without the initiative and energy of entrepreneurs, the job engine sputters. When that happens, Clifton explains, we feel the effects across every sector of society, including education and the military. Thus, entrepreneurial circulation — bringing with it job creation and intensified competition — is the key development shaping our collective economic future.

— Carl J. Schramm


An excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Coming Jobs War: What Every Leader Must Know about the Future of Job Creation


What the whole world wants is a good job.

This is one of the most important discoveries Gallup has ever made. At the very least, it needs to be considered in every policy, every law, and every social initiative. All leaders — policymakers and lawmakers, presidents and prime ministers, parents, judges, priests, pastors, imams, teachers, managers, and CEOs — need to consider it every day in everything they do.

That is as simple and as straightforward an explanation of the data as I can give. Whether you and I were walking down the street in Khartoum, Cairo, Berlin, Lima, Los Angeles, Baghdad, or Istanbul, we would discover that the single most dominant thought on most people’s minds is about having a good job.

Humans used to desire love, money, food, shelter, safety, peace, and freedom more than anything else. The last 30 years have changed us. Now people want to have a good job, and they want their children to have a good job. This changes everything for world leaders. Everything they do — from waging war to building societies — will need to be carried out within the new context of the need for a good job.

The word “good” is important. Some job, any job, isn’t enough. When people talk about a good job, they mean a job that gives them the amount of work they want. Your cousin may pay you for helping out at his roadside food stand, but that’s far from a job in a company that’s officially registered with the government and where you have regular work for 30 hours or more a week.

The desire for a good job is the current will of the world, and whether or not you have a good job defines your relationship with your city, your country, and the whole world around you.

A great question for leaders to ask is: “Why is knowing that the whole world wants a good job everything to me?” The answer is: Leaders of countries and cities must make creating good jobs their No. 1 mission and primary purpose because good jobs are becoming the new currency for all world leaders. Everything leaders do must include this new global state of mind or they’ll put their cities and countries at risk.

• Lawmakers need to know whether new laws — such as taxes, healthcare legislation, and environmental regulations — attract or repel talented entrepreneurs. If enough talented people are repelled, then the new laws will cause brain drain and undermine job creation.

• Public school superintendents and university presidents need to think beyond core curricula and their graduation rates. Students don’t want to merely graduate; they want an education that results in a good job.

• Military leaders must consider good jobs when waging war and planning for peace. They must ask themselves whether military strikes, occupations, or community policing will be followed by a growing economy with good jobs — or not. The opportunity to have a good job is essential to changing a population’s desperate and violent frame of mind.

Mayors and leaders of every city, town, and village on Earth must realize that every decision they make should consider the impact, first and foremost, on good jobs.

The evolution of the great global dream is going to be the material for hundreds of Ph.D. dissertations. But it’s only the beginning of the story. Shifting the importance humans place on peace, love, food, and shelter — all the things people used to care about more than anything — to a good job suggests a significant change in the evolution of civilization. One of the most important changes is in global migration patterns.

Man and woman probably appeared about 200,000 years ago on the savannah plains in what is now Ethiopia. They fanned out to improve their lives, their tribes, and their families. And they have never stopped walking. The first to move have always been the boldest adventurers, explorers, and wanderers, and that’s still true. Until rather recently in human evolution, explorers were looking for new hunting grounds, cropland, territories, passageways, and natural resources. But now, the explorers are seeking something else.

Today’s explorers migrate to the cities that are most likely to maximize innovation and entrepreneurial talents and skill. Wherever the most talented choose to migrate is where the next economic empires will rise. That’s why San Francisco, Seoul, and Singapore have become such colossal engines of job creation. When the talented explorers of the new millennium choose your city, you attain the new Holy Grail of global leadership — brain gain, talent gain, and subsequently, job creation.

— Jim Clifton

Reprinted with permission from The Coming Jobs War: What Every Leader Must Know about the Future of Job Creation, by Jim Clifton (Gallup Press, 2011).

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