Ten Demands America Must Master Now
Business Journal

Ten Demands America Must Master Now

How the U.S. can retain its global leadership in a world where everyone wants a good job

From all Gallup's data, which have been gathered from asking the whole world questions on virtually everything, the most profound finding is this: The primary will of the world is no longer about peace or freedom or even democracy; it is not about having a family, and it is neither about God nor about owning a home or land. The will of the world is first and foremost to have a good job. Everything else comes after that. A good job is a social value. That is a huge sociological shift for humankind. It changes everything about how people lead countries, cities, and organizations.

Job creation is the new currency of all world leaders.

For America -- or any other country that seizes the opportunity -- to lead the new will of the world as well as win the global war for good jobs, it will have to master 10 demands. These 10 findings are the most important of the literally trillions of combinations of data and opinions Gallup has studied:

1. The biggest problem facing the world is an inadequate supply of good jobs. Every leader in every institution and organization must consider this in every decision he or she makes every day. The great global dream is now focused on having a good job. If you are the best in the world at something other than creating strategies and policies aimed at the great global dream, your leadership now has less value. Job creation is the new currency of all world leaders. The new most important social value in the world no longer relates to human rights, the environment, abortion, religion, gay marriage, women's issues, or equality. The No. 1 social value in the world is my job.

2. Job creation can only be accomplished in cities. There is huge variation of local GDP and job creation outcomes by city. Cities can be influenced and changed more than whole countries. The federal government cannot create sustainable jobs, just short-term ones. Jobs are as local as politics. Cities are job power plants of human energy, which creates jobs through innovation and especially through entrepreneurship.

3. There are three key energy sources of job creation in America: the country's top 100 cities, its top 100 universities, and its 10,000 local "tribal leaders" -- philanthropists, city fathers and mothers, business leaders, and other deeply invested citizens who get things done for the good of their city. There are many other moving parts of job creation, but these are the most dependable and manageable. They are the best strengths to leverage. They are America's supercollider for jobs.

The Coming Jobs War

4. Entrepreneurship is more important than innovation. The supply and demand is backward here: Almost all countries, states, and cities have bet everything on fostering innovation. Innovation is critical, but it plays a supporting role to almighty entrepreneurship. The investments should follow rare entrepreneurs versus the worldwide oversupply of innovation. Put another way, it's far better to invest in entrepreneurial people than in great ideas.

5. America cannot outrun its healthcare costs. This is dead weight for the United States that virtually no other country carries. Every leader has to put physical fitness at the core of every decision he or she makes or surrender America's leadership of the free world. American business managers need to review their teams on performance and growth but also on overall health and wellbeing.

6. The American public school dropout rate is approximately one-third -- 50% among minorities. Because all public education results are local, local leaders need to lead their whole cities and all youth programs to war on the dropout rate with a strategy of one city, one school, one student at a time. If they don't, they will lose jobs. The fate of a nation rides on the financial literacy and entrepreneurial energy of its kids.

7. The United States must differentiate itself by doubling its number of engaged employees. Disengagement and low-energy workplaces ultimately kill jobs. Only 28% of the American workforce is ready to compete and win each day. Doubling that number would create more customers, more jobs, and more startups and generally doubles the economic energy of the United States. Running a lousy workplace is now not only bad business, but it's also un-American.

8. Jobs occur where new customers appear. For that reason, the science of customers, often referred to as customer insight or customer centricity, is more important today than ever before. Customer centricity and deep customer insight are essential in the global war for good jobs. Americans have to understand global customers better than anybody else in the world does, or lose that war.

9. Every economy rides on the backs of small to medium-sized businesses. So goes their state of mind, especially optimism and determination, so goes America's economic future. Most jobs occur when entrepreneurs start companies. The next biggest job source is the approximately 5% of existing small companies that shoot up to big success. Cities have to create environments where this is highly encouraged, supported, mentored, and celebrated. Every strategy about everything has to relate to small-business creation and acceleration.

10. So go exports, so goes the coming jobs war. The United States needs to more than triple exports in the next five years and increase them by 20 times in the next 30 years. The U.S. cannot win the jobs war by just selling more products to its own consumers. The country has to export. Exporting is its next man-on-the-moon moment.

If the United States were to master these 10 demands, the country would not only reverse its current economic course, but it would also create more global friendships based on the ultimate mutual respect from business partnerships. And when the smoke clears, the United States of America will have won the global jobs war.

Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO of Gallup. He is the author of The Coming Jobs War and coauthor of Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder.
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