Written by Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup,
Reviewed by Chris Wendel
“The global war for jobs will determine the leader of the free world and if the United States allows China or any country or region to out-enterprise it, out-job-create it, out-grow its GDP, everything changes. This is America’s next war for everything. From “The Coming Jobs War” by Jim Clifton
Job creation is a topic that still dominates the national media as well as state and local news. While there is plenty of rhetoric to go around with job creation discussions, few pundits have been able to quantify how serious our national employment situation may be in coming decades.
Written by Jim Clifton the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, The Coming Jobs War begins by laying out the perilous job forecast for the U.S. The book’s doom and gloom analysis will leave many readers detached and hopeless until Clifton turns more personable and positive in Chapter 4.
Perhaps it was Clifton’s intention to start out with a flurry of attention getting Gallup information (the man has after all, six years of comprehensive global research at his fingertips). His prediction going forward is that the world’s growing population will want 3 billion jobs, while the available supply will only provide 1.2 billion jobs. With jobs being today the main factor for people defining themselves, the society with the most jobs will come out on top. Clifton’s major point is that jobs are now the currency for economic might and if we as a country simply maintain the status quo, then we are in fact in deep trouble.
Behavioral economics is the cornerstone of the Clifton’s prescription for competing for future work and prosperity, or as he calls it “our World War III.” Armed with an arsenal of Gallup research, Clifton uses the bulk of The Coming Jobs War to illustrate how solving most of our ills involve an approach far different from classical economics based solutions held so tightly by traditional policy makers.
“So the big leadership breakthrough within behavioral economics is to manage, lead, and build strategies in the before, not the after”. The idea is to more accurately make policy decisions based on more economic and social demands because “…military force, religion, or personal values won’t work in the future like it has in the past.”
Clifton shows how behavioral economic data tracks what goes into a consumer’s buying decision before they purchase a product or service. “All of these small decisions are lost in most of the ways we try to create jobs. Clifton discusses how innovation is great, but without skilled entrepreneurs who can connect the innovation with paying consumers and markets, that innovation is useless.
Entrepreneurship therefore should be revered in our schools instead of standardized tests and the ability of workers to problem-solve and reinvent themselves for market conditions should become the standard.
This approach to job creation includes factors that bode well for the Grand Traverse region and if we pay attention, to Michigan as well. This includes local leadership that can orchestrate people and resources, and entrepreneurial innovation where start-up companies supply the majority of new jobs. Although Clifton claims that major job growth can only be accomplished in cities, that don’t eliminate strong ongoing efforts that are under way in smaller areas like Traverse City.
Clifton ends with a flourish, taking swipes at the unhealthy lifestyles of many Americans (that costs us billions annually) and our failing secondary educational systems. He also offers up reasonable solutions, but not without paradigm shifts for those making major policy decisions.
If you’re looking for a book that will clarify steps for our national economy to take going forward, this is it. The challenge will be getting leaders to read it as well.
Chris Wendel is the Regional Director for Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC) in Traverse City. The MI-SBTDC assists businesses with one-on-one business consulting, market research information, and entrepreneurial training. The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments is the host organization for the MI-SBTDC in the Grand Traverse region.
The Coming Jobs War, By Jim Clifton
$24.95 hardcover, 225 pages, Gallup Press
Available in most local bookstores