05 December 2011

Where do Jobs Come From?

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation has just issued a report on anemic U.S. job growth in which it provides a concise overview of various diagnoses for persistently high unemployment.  The report outlines seven different explanations:

1. A classic Keynesian contraction (implication: government stimulus)
2. Financial crises are different (implication: wait it out)
3. Regulatory uncertainty (implication: finalize legislation, lighten regulatory burden)
4. Unskilled workforce (implication: train workers, streamline immigration)
5. Not enough innovation (implication: invest in R&D, innovation-friendly policies)
6. Too much innovation (implication: put brakes on productivity growth)
7. Weakened U.S. competitiveness (implication: strengthen manufacturing, invest in skills, R&D)

Number 7 is the favored diagnosis of ITIF. But, what if all seven are in some way correct? That is how it looks to me.

This debate is not unique to the present crisis or the United States. Consider that every year for the next decade India is expected to add to its workforce a number of workers equivalent to the entire population of Sweden. Over the next decade the global economy will have to add jobs at the rate of the total German population every two years (based on the rate of job growth of the last 20 years). Job growth is an important and shared global priority.

Where do jobs come from? How do we get more? These are questions that I'll be exploring in the near term, starting from some very basics, mainly to sort out some of these issues in my own mind. Assistance welcomed.