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The Return of American Dominance

What the whole world wants is a good job.

This is one of the most important discoveries Gallup has ever made. So my big idea for 2015 is simply this: Create as many good jobs as possible throughout the world. This should be the No. 1 priority for business and government leaders everywhere. Nothing else even comes close.

God knows, we need good jobs. The root cause of almost everything wrong with the world is joblessness, particularly among young males. You see this everywhere from Ferguson, Missouri -- where "the unemployment and poverty rates for blacks in St. Louis County are consistently higher than those rates for white residents," as The Washington Post reported, -- to Fallujah, where ISIS planted its flag this year.

And Fallujah is symptomatic of what's happening throughout the Middle East. In the Middle East and North Africa region, there are over 100 million young people aged 18 to 29 -- meaning there are probably about 50 million young males. Of these, Gallup World Poll data on unemployment -- calculated by full-time jobs only; that's to say 30+ hours of work per week for an organization providing a regular paycheck -- shows only 26% of young Middle Eastern males with a real job. This means the share of that young male population without a full-time job is a deadly 74%.

The problem is global. Of the world's 5 billion adults (16 years and older) a whopping 3 billion tell the Gallup World Poll what they want more than anything is a "good job." Right now, Gallup finds there are only 1.2 billion good jobs currently on earth. So there is a 1.8 billion global shortfall.

Here's a solution that I am 100% sure will fix the world and put human development back on track: Find and develop the world's best entrepreneurs. Their new businesses will boom the global economy and create the good jobs the world desperately needs.

Now, this point may be controversial to some, but I think America has to lead the way. Ours is still the biggest and most dynamic economy, and we're still the most attractive place on earth for entrepreneurs. If we get this right, the rest of the world will follow.

But we have our work cut out for us, especially now that the total number of new business startups and business closures per year -- the birth and death rates of American companies -- crossed for the first time since the measurement began, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

What's more, we don't have a history in the U.S. for identifying innate entrepreneurial talent the way we do for kids with high IQs or super sports stars or rare musical talent. If you have a high IQ, America's massive testing systems will find you. We're probably the best in the world at high-level intellectual development. There is no chance a really smart student will be left behind in America. And if you have the rare, innate talent to play basketball or football, our massive youth-to-college-to-pro sports systems will find you. We're probably the best in the world at early identification and development of star athletes as well. There is no chance a sports star will be missed in America. Same is true if you're a gifted entertainer or artist.

But if you have the rare, innate ability to create a customer, to build a company -- if you have the talent for entrepreneurship -- your early identification and subsequent development is left to chance.

We've got to fix this. Entrepreneurs are born not made. We need to change our thinking if we're ever going to be a dominant, world-leading force again.

Gallup Analytics has discovered that five in 1,000 people have the rare gift to start and grow a business of almost limitless size. The best place to look for these talented individuals is among our youth. There are nearly 30 million students in U.S. middle and high schools right now, so that means there are about 150,000 future blue-chip entrepreneurs in fifth through 12th grade now, more in college, and tens of thousands more adult potential business builders out there. We need a national effort to find them all and quickly develop their genius as surely as we would if they had off-the-charts IQs or were the next LeBron or Beyonce.

Find those 150,000 young people born with entrepreneurial talent who can change America and the world. Start by testing them when they reach high school. Put them in high speed development as well as meaningful paid internships with talented mentors. Get them on a path where they will build businesses and create good jobs for decades to come. We can do this. There are only 150,000 of them -- it's an easy number for you and me to get our arms around.

If we do this right, we will fix America. Then our county can go forward and once again confidently lead the world.

Then let's take what we've done here and spread it around the globe. Let's find the five in 1,000 born entrepreneurs in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe -- everywhere.

Only a dominant America can fix the world's biggest problem.


Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO at Gallup.

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