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An Economy That Works: Job Creation and America’s Future

On June 10th, 2011, The Committee for Economic Development hosted An Economy That Works: Job Creation and America's Future, a lunch-time forum that marked the release of the McKinsey Global Institute’s new report on jobs and the future of the American workforce. The event featured keynote speaker Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; Martin Baily, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution; Zanny Minton Beddoes, Economics Editor, The Economist; CED Trustee Carl Camden, President and CEO, Kelly Services, Inc.; CED Trustee Lenny Mendonca, Director, McKinsey & Company; Andy Stern, former President, SEIU; Laura D'Andrea Tyson, S.K. and Angela Chan Professor of Global Management, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley; and leaders from the McKinsey Global Institute.

The event began with welcoming remarks from Charles Kolb, who spoke about the evidence of a "gathering storm" of evidence that the US is in economic peril, and how CED is working to address concerns about the future of the economy.  CED Trustee and Director of McKinsey & Company Lenny Mendonca, also provided welcoming remarks, speaking about The McKinsey Global Institute, and their work finding ways to promote post-recession economic growth and renewal. He then introduced Austan Goolsbee, who provided a more optimistic view of the US economy, stating that the US labor market is on a trajectory of improvement, that the US has had several positive growth periods despite the most recent reports, and that the country is still the most productive nation in the world (with the exception of Luxembourg) with extremely productive industries. He closed his remarks talking about the job market, and said that the number one economic issue facing the US is not the deficit, but that we find smart ways to grow, getting our workers trained today for the jobs we'll need to fill in ten years.

After Goolsbee, McKinsey Global Institute Director James Manyika and McKinsey Global Institute Director of Research Susan Lund provided a presentation on the new McKinsey report An Economy That Works: Job Creation and America's Future. They provided insights into their research, and looked at the challenges the US is facing in job creation over the next 10 years, the changing nature of work, and the types of policies that will be needed to reach full employment.  They also discussed the major themes in the report: the effects of “jobless” recoveries on the labor force, the growing mismatch between worker skills and job requirements and the need for innovation and strong demand in key economic sectors to generate new jobs.

During the second half of the program, panel moderator Zanny Minton Beddoes took the stage along with with panelists Byron Auguste, Martin Baily, Carl Camden, Andy Stern and Laura D'Andrea Tyson for an in-depth discussion on the state of the economy and job creation in the US. Baily said that he didn't see the potentail for net job growth over the next 10 years, but Auguste disagreed, saying that we can get back to success but need revolutionary innovation in skill development and education. Camden built upon Baily's sentiments, saying that the US does not have the education system we need to develop US workers that we need, and we don't have the immigration policy to bring in foreign workers that we need, so we can't blame companies who go outside the country for labor. Tyson spoke about the link between economic growth and postsecondary education as well, saying that the rapidly escalating costs of education, coupled with less information available about what kind of skills businesses are looking for, have people 'worried sick' about how to continue their education.  Stern  expanded the discussion, saying that the US industry's domination by powerful monopolies is the real reason that there is less innovation, and calling on the panel to think beyond education reform when talking about US policy changes that need to be made.

A question and answer period marked the close of the program.