Patrick Skarr, Accounts Supervisor

“The Coming Jobs War,” by Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, is a fascinating work that should be read by every candidate and campaign consultant. Clifton uses Gallup’s vast data pool to succinctly articulate why we are miscommunicating the nature of the new economy and why we need to change course quickly.

From the outset Clifton uses language intended to invoke a strong reaction from everyone – we are entering a new jobs war with the rest of the globe. Over the next 30 years America will be competing for $140 trillion in new economic activity.

The jobs conflict over meaningful employment goes something like this, someone will win and get the most of that new economic activity, others will get less of the pie, while some will gain the least, or even be worse off. That’s economic life.

What struck me the most was Clifton’s argument that in general, America’s political leaders, corporate communicators, genii of industry and PR professionals have erred in the framing and language of community development, job creation and economy.

This error of language revolves around a fundamental misunderstanding of the challenge of the new jobs war, which begets bad decision-making and development strategies.

Instead of focusing on how to encourage the creation of a specific number of jobs, we should be talking about strategies that have a demonstrable and long-lasting impact on demand generation in a local, regional community or national economy. For Clifton, it’s not about fostering innovation; instead it’s about harnessing great business people who can channel activity and ideas into consumer demand, jobs and commodities.

 Successful businesses don’t set out to create jobs; they focus on finding new customers and meeting that demand. In turn, when these businesses meet this new demand they hire additional employees. The economic circle of life goes on. That’s easy and we all understand.

Clifton’s work doesn’t argue that job creation and talking about it isn’t important, especially given the ongoing decline in labor force participation rates. However, the private sector should focus on the long-term strategy that develops growing and vibrant communities. After all, that’s what matters.

In representing, advocating and advancing the interests of clients we shouldn’t solely focus on jobs created directly in the community. Instead, the most potent and powerful argument is that X project, Y investment and/or Z’s relocation will create and sustain economic energy. We need to explain how everyone benefits, not just the lucky 200 new hires.

A new national conversation on our long-term plan for job creation is necessary. We should do our best to contribute positively to it. I encourage you to download the e-book or pick up a hardcopy of Clifton’s work. The issue of job creation isn’t going away anytime soon.