Jobs And Magical Thinking

Terrance Heath

If you hope hard enough, and look hard enough, the jobs will appear. At least, that’s the thrust of Mark Lange’s recent column in The Christian Science Monitor

When we imagine that government – and even companies – “create” jobs, we’re missing half the story: the crucial part. The part that most of us can actually influence, right now.

It’s a paradox, but job seekers are actually job creators. People (and the politicians that love their votes) tend to focus on how many employers happen to be hiring. But an overlooked tenet of labor economics says that what’s equally vital to creating jobs is the presence of an adequately skilled workforce capable of filling them.

In other words, when the workers are ready, the jobs appear.

This is no Zen abstraction. “Ready” means retraining – going to night school, learning new skills, taking risks – not complaining, as some do, about bringing jobs back from China.

It calls for presidential leadership that doesn’t bemoan “the burden of working harder and longer for less” (a debatable factoid). It means studying harder and longer, to earn more.

It means that job seekers have to keep seeking – aware, as Woody Allen said, that 80 percent of success is just showing up. Sometimes before an employer is able or willing to pay what you’re worth.

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