Opinion

Chrystia Freeland

The jobs council weighs in

Peter Rudegeair
Jun 29, 2011 20:52 UTC

“Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! What can we do?” was the title of a panel Chrystia moderated at the New York Forum last week with members of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  The Council has been tasked with jump-starting the U.S. labor market and recommending changes to the nation’s education and training initiatives, and each of the panelists touched on a different aspect of the Council’s findings.

Laura Tyson, a former chief economic adviser to President Clinton and an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, stressed that infrastructure projects were the low-hanging fruit of job creation.  She argued that $1 billion in infrastructure investment could create between 11,000 and 30,000 jobs.  Many infrastructure projects have been approved and are shovel-ready — the only thing that’s holding them up is the Department of Transportation’s lengthy permitting process, Tyson noted.

Valerie Jarrett, a Senior Advisor to President Obama, added that in order to offset the rise in structural unemployment, investments in education and worker placement must be made sooner rather than later:

The President is convinced that if we’re going to win the future, we have to continue to invest in education; we have to invest in innovation; and we have to re-build and build in order for us to be competitive…  We also want to make sure that the companies who are here have the resources they need to compete globally, and that means having a trained workforce.  That means having a workforce that’s trained for the marketplace of tomorrow, not the marketplace of yesterday, and so focusing on science and technology and engineering and math and partnering with our community colleges and working with the private sector so they actually design the curriculum and offer a job when you complete a program.  So for the people who are currently unemployed, let’s get them into those programs, so when the opportunities arise because demand does increase there is actually a job waiting for you on the other end.

AOL co-founder Steve Case emphasized entrepreneurship in his remarks.  Case brought up a study from the Kauffman Foundation that found that high-growth, entrepreneurial companies created 40 million jobs in the past 25 years — that’s roughly all the net job growth the U.S. saw during that period.  Nevertheless, Case laments, the nation has taken its entrepreneurs for granted and hasn’t recognized that entrepreneurship is the “secret sauce” that flavors the U.S. economy:

America’s economy: glass half full?

Chrystia Freeland
Jun 24, 2011 14:50 UTC

Is it morning in America? Or is now a time for blood, sweat, toil and tears? As the United States warms up for the presidential elections, the choice between those two narratives will be the most important decision each party makes and may determine who wins in 2012.

Both are ways of talking about the economy — the issue that polls show overwhelmingly preoccupies U.S. voters. The morning-in-America storyline is that the financial crisis is over, the economy is healing and the country’s innate powers of renewal, reinvention and innovation are already asserting themselves. The blood, sweat, toil and tears view is that the U.S. economy is still sick and that it will take a significant, arduous and collective effort to nurse it back to health.

For now, the White House is committed to morning in America. That was the message of a discussion among members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness that I moderated this week at the New York Forum, a high-powered annual gathering of CEO’s and politicians that is shaping up to be New York’s answer to Davos.

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