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What Everyone in the World Wants: A Good Job
Business Journal

What Everyone in the World Wants: A Good Job

Story Highlights

  • The real unemployment rate in the world is over 50%
  • The jobs war manifests itself through national instability
  • The jobs war is being fought at the city level around the world

Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton was recently interviewed on the global need for good jobs by South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. What follows is a version of that exchange.

The title of your book, The Coming Jobs War, suggests the next global war will be fought over good jobs. What made you reach that conclusion?

What everyone in the world wants is a good job. This is one of Gallup's biggest discoveries ever, yet almost no leader in the world knows this. It is a sociological shift of great significance. People want a good job; they don't want informal jobs or self-employment out of necessity.

Of the 7 billion people in the world, there are 5 billion adults aged 15 and older. Of these 5 billion, 3 billion tell Gallup they desire a full-time job. Only 1.3 billion actually have a good job, which means that the real unemployment rate in the world is over 50%.

What makes you think this phenomenon is global?

This discovery comes from Gallup's World Poll. We have built consistent sampling frames across more than 160 countries, which are home to more than 99% of the world's population. Our World Poll has tracked the will of the world for 10 years.

Who will win if the jobs war breaks out today?

Nobody wins. The jobs war manifests itself through national instability. The jobs war looks much like what you saw in the Arab Spring -- which has become the Arab Nightmare, or even the Arab Jobs War.

What is the definition of a good job?

Gallup defines a good job as one with 30+ hours of work a week with a consistent paycheck from an employer. A great job is a job in which you believe your boss cares about your development, you can use your strengths every day at work, and you believe your work makes a contribution to something. So your job matters and, subsequently, your life matters.

How should individuals prepare for a possible jobs war?

The world is experiencing a decline of free enterprise and slowing of entrepreneurship. Every leader of every country and every citizen needs to consider how he or she can contribute to building free enterprise energy -- especially in creating new startup organizations.

You wrote in The Coming Jobs War that your book is for every leader. Who are those leaders? What should leaders do? What are their roles?

City leadership -- by which I mean not only elected leaders, but local business leaders, philanthropists and people who care deeply about their city's future -- is far more important than national leadership. The jobs war is being fought at the city level around the world: San Francisco versus Seoul, Berlin versus Beijing. This is largely because cities, like companies, exhibit wide variation in economic outcomes.

What should local governments do to promote entrepreneurship?

Local governments can help by reducing barriers for startup companies and making their cities as attractive as possible for entrepreneurs. You want your city to be the best place on earth to start and grow a business.

How do you facilitate entrepreneurship?

The most important activity is early identification and then very intentional development of talented entrepreneurs, including mentoring and rich education in the science of customers. Cities must identify and develop their entrepreneurial talent.

Anything else you'd like to add?

World economic energy is in decline. The brutal reality is we're not creating enough good jobs to meet the will of the world -- the global will to have a good job. Not meeting that need will accelerate global instability. My message is that it is possible to turn things around quickly -- we just need to get very serious and intentional about it.

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