From the site The Coming Jobs War:
What everyone in the world wants is a good job.
Today, this statement makes vivid sense.
In a provocative book for business and government leaders, Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton describes how this undeniable fact will affect all leadership decisions as countries wage war to produce the best jobs.
Mr. Clifton joined the show recently to talk about the book, his book, and what it means for us. You can listen here.
Mr. Clifton, thank you for being on the show.
Thank you for your interest in Gallup research.
Thank you for writing a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an important book and I hope lots of people buy it, read it.
The title in your book says this book is for every leader. I've said on this show that we're all leaders now in charge of creating our world, our community, our career and the jobs in those. But I think you have a tighter definition of leader. Describe the leader you had in mind as you wrote this book.
I’m not sure that people are focusing on exactly the right thing. I’m not sure they know how big this problem the problem is.
One of the things that Doctor George Gallup figured out was there was a pretty significant shift in the will of the United States. He referred to it as The Great American Dream. But it used to be to have peace, to have a family, to have independence, freedom, pray to the god you want and all that.
But, now it’s changed. There’s a huge sociological shift. Now, it’s changed to having a good job.
So, that means it’s your relationship with your family, your community, your country...all those things are driven more by a job than by anything else. That means we have to lead differently, not just you and me but the President of the US and everybody else.
The thing that’s interesting that we found in the World Poll was that now that the Great American Dream is now the Great Global Dream, as well. that’s why the book is called The Coming Jobs War.
There are 7 billion people in the world, 5 billion adults and when we poll those 5 billion adults 3 billoin of othem say they would like to have a good job, you know 30 hours ore more of interesting work. Now, of those 3 billion, when we ask them if they have one then only 1.2 million say that they do.
You see what I mean?
The need for a good job in the world is 3 billion. Yet, there’s only 1.2 billion good jobs. So, if you said describe mathematically or as specifically as you can how many more of these jobs do we need, then we need to find 1.8 billion.
The jobs problem here in the US is that it’s not just here. It’s exacerbated by the fact that the whole world wants a good job. It’s a global problem that we’re feeling here.
But the leadership issue is that we really got to develop the sciences and get a lot smarter. Otherwise, I think the whole world is going to come apart.
Coming back to that point you just brought up that there are 1.8 billion employable adults who want a good job and cannot find one. Your statistics here in the US show we have an under-employment rate of 18%. Now, if I’m looking at the math here the underemployment rate globally is 50+%.
When you see 9 point something unemployment, the way the US government counts that is in a very very limited way. Let’s say I come over and mow your yard and I’m an engineer. You pay me $20 and I work for 1 hour. The US government’s labor department counts me as employed. I’m not in the 9.1% unemployed.
Now, another thing is that if I’m so depressed, I’ve tried everywhere and I’ve knocked on doors everywhere and I can’t get a job and I give up? Then I’m not in that number either.
It would be a lot better if the US government would call unemployment what it is. It’s getting up around 20%. There’s about 150 million people who want work. You’ve got 20% of those, 30 million, it’s not that they want a better job or anything else, they don’t have full-time work.
By the way, out of that 30 million out of work when Gallup asked if they hoped to get a job 60% of them say ‘no’. That gets you 18 million. That gets you 18 million people that are in a state of mind that really the country’s never been in.
We’re really in a different state of mind than even in the Great Depression as well.
My friend, Erika Andersen coined a great phrase in her book Being Strategic. Her phrase is reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future. And she asks:
What is your reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future?
What was your reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future with writing this book?
Well, I think the US is a really dangerous situation. I think there are so few people who understand. Our picture of the US is going to change so much in the next 30 years from both job creation and GDP growth.
Right now, global GDP is right at $60 trillion. And we generate 15 of that. That means we generate 25% of the world’s good jobs. We really are the Roman Empire. The thing is our GDP is growing at such a tiny amount. Blended over the past 10 years it’s like 1.2%. China’s growing at a rate of 10%. Although we have 15 trillion of GDP, China only has 5 or 6, they will blow us away over the next 30 years.
And so, what most economists say is we’ll be at about $30 trillion in the next 30 years and they’ll be at $60-80 trillion. So, it means they’ll be the leaders of the free world and not the US.
That thought to me as an American and a lot of my friends is really quite overwhelming. And we can come back. We have in the past. That’s really what drove me to write this book.
Being the CEO of the Gallup organization, you know metrics are key. This next question shouldn't be difficult to answer. What metrics will you use to measure your progress towards this hoped-for future?
I would say GDP growth is really important. We really ned to get our GDP growth up above 4% fast, at least 3.5%. If you really want to win, it has to be above 5%. So, the single most important metric is to see GDP start growing.
But, here’s a really important one. For us to re-win leadership of the free world and I call it the playoff game of our lives then we have to export. We only export somewhere between $1.5 and $2 trillion a year depending on whose counting. But, that’s close. The only way that America can maintain its economic leadership of the world is to, we’ve gotta triple exports in the next 5 years. They need to go up 20 times in the next 30 years.
We need to have quality GDP growth. We can’t just sustain shovel jobs and those things like that. We need to have real entrepreneurs create real new businesses. GroupOn, Facebook are really good examples. But there are good manufacturing jobs, too. but they gotta have companies that sell stuff overseas or this isn’t going to work.
So, exports is a really important number to watch.
How and when did you reach this conclusion that we’re moving to The Coming Jobs War? At what point in your research did you see this?
We started right after 9/11. People didn’t know what was on the minds of 1.5 billion Muslims. So, we started doing polls in the middle east. We started to see that there was a hopelessness there that didn’t have to do with religion and hating American and hating our freedoms. You can find threads of that stuff in almost any society.
What we found was the desperateness economically. And then we started to wonder to scratch our heads and say:
“How come we’re just picking on these middle eastern, predominantly Muslim, countries? Why don’t we do all 160 countries? Why don’t we check with them all?”
I know that there are 200 countries. But we can get 98% of the population.
We all just stood around in silence. We were just sorta surprised. What the whole world wants is a good job. And that’s what really triggered this.
What is the definition of a good job?
Well, a labor economist will say:
“30+ hours, with a paycheck from an organization for regular work.”
And they call it a ‘formal’ job; that’s a ‘good’ job. Now. And so, Gallup agrees with that.
We do think there is one step above that and that’s a ‘great’ job. that’s where it uses your strengths; it’s a place where your opinion counts; and where your boss actually cares about your development.
If you’ve got those going for you, then you have a ‘great’ job. And very few people in the world have that. that would be just 20% of the 1.2 billion or about 250 million people. It’s a very, very special life if you have a job that uses your talents and you have unlimited potential in how to do things and you have a boss that cares about your development...
Now, in listening to you and reading your book, you describe how in the next 30 years GDP could triple and our GDP rose 10% over the next 5 years then our unemployment problem would disappear. What am I missing?
No. Definitely. If we got, if we had GDP growing at 3.5% and we had exports doubling and tripling then we wouldn’t have a jobs problem.
But you also write that if the world's GDP were to triple there would be massive upheaval in the global economy. What would be some of that massive upheaval?
I don’t understand that question.
I think countries will be rocked if they don’t...the worlds’ GDP is $60 trillion. And if you average the best economist in the world, what we’re going to grow to over the next 30 years and that’s $200 trillion. So, what it means is $140 trillion in new equity, jobs, customers, markets coming into the world. Kinda like a rain that will fall across the whole planet. It’s going to fall disproportionately where entrepreneurs and job creators are.
Let’s take Egypt. Egypt thinks it has political problems. They don’t. They have a jobs problem. if they can’t that thing growing, you know where the whole country is participating in GDP growth then I think that they’ll have chaos and instability and revolution.
I don’t think any country is safe. I don’t think Great Britain is safe; I don’t think China is safe; I don’t think the US is safe, either. You gotta keep jobs growing or you’re going to have instability.
Now, where will these battlefields be in this coming jobs war? Where will the jobs be created and where will they be lost?
Let’s just stay with the US, right now. This is something very few people know. But all jobs are created in small businesses. I call them ‘startups’ and ‘shootups’. And startups, right now, we have about 400,000 startups a year; that needs to be a million.
There’s a lot of arguments about these numbers. People start up companies on paper without employees. We need, we need a million companies with one employee that start up every year. Right now, we’re cleaer down around 400,000.
Until people get up in the morning and say “Dammit. I’m going to start a company today.’ the US will not come back and we will lose our world leadership position.
There are 6 million companies with 500 employees or less. Those are called small and medium sized businesses. Of those, 5% of them shoot up. So, between ‘startups’ and ‘shootups’, the 5% in that 6 million group, that’s where all the jobs are created. There are no jobs created in big businesses.
By the way, of companies that have 10,000 or more employees, 10,000 isn’t very many, there are only 1000 of them in the US. There are very few big businesses. People are employed by small businesses. The general public, leaders in Washington, very few people know these facts.
So, when you say:
‘Where’s the battleground?'
The battleground is in small businesses. That’s why decisions have to be made by leaders, not just in federal government or state but also in city, that we’ve got to create an environment for small to medium-sized businesses.
If we’re not creating new companies, you have to have 100 start to get 2 or 3 Facebooks. But winning lies somewhere within that.
Beautiful. Thank you.
Part Two of our conversation will be published Thursday, September 29.
Part Three of our conversation will be published Friday, September 30.