The Jobs Council is developing realistic, achievable ideas that business and government can put into practice starting now. These represent the best ideas for investing in America, getting our economy back on track and creating jobs.

Mon Feb 2 2015

About the Council

Almost four years after the onset of the worst recession since the Great Depression, job growth is not nearly what it needs to be to return the nation to full employment. A weak labor market and the debt hangover faced by families, financial firms and governments, along with recent troubles in Europe, Japan and energy markets worldwide, have made this recovery more challenging than previous ones, and it calls for a wider range of responses. At the same time, leaders in business, government, labor and civil society have expressed growing concerns about America’s ability to compete effectively in the global economy. To inject fresh perspective and momentum into the search for solutions, President Obama convened the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness earlier this year, asking leaders from business, labor and academia to develop ideas to accelerate job growth and improve the country’s long-term position.

The Council believes there is no one “silver bullet” to create jobs. We’ve therefore sought to generate multiple ideas that together can add up to real progress. We’ve identified and prioritized many areas that don’t depend on major legislative action or government funding. As a nonpartisan group, we’ve also steered clear of the fights that invariably swirl around the nation’s current economic strains.

The Council has pursued a three-phase approach to its work: catalyzing job growth by capturing “low-hanging fruit” over the short-term; focusing on broader ways to accelerate job creation while also lifting U.S. competitiveness over the next two to five years; and developing proposals on the broader factors influencing American competitiveness over the next five to 10 years.

In June, the Council presented its first set of ideas to spur new hiring immediately. It included ways to cut red tape that bogs down big infrastructure projects and deters ready-to-spend tourists from reaching our shores. Indeed, when flocks of tourists from rising economies like Brazil or China go elsewhere because it can take months of arduous effort to get a U.S. visa, that’s emblematic of the barriers to job creation that common-sense reforms can quickly address. The Administration has already begun to act on these early ideas.

Since June, while national policymakers have focused on macroeconomic challenges—including the forces affecting aggregate demand and consumer behavior as well as related questions of federal and state fiscal policy—the Council’s aim has been to identify and unlock pockets of growth that can speed job creation over a two- to five-year period. In particular, we looked for opportunities to change the trajectory of jobs growth by bolstering the institutions that shape the nation’s underlying competitiveness.

In December, the Council will deliver a year-end report addressing the broader factors that underpin national competitiveness. Our plan will be to sound the alarm. In an era of global economic competition, America’s future prosperity and the strength of our middle class require us to be far more strategic and effective when it comes to the key determinants of economic strength: education and training; respect for workers’ rights; tax policy; energy policy; research and development; manufacturing prowess; fiscal and financial stability; and more. If we fail to reverse today’s troubling long-term trends, our children’s standard of living will erode.

Despite the hard times and anxieties that too many Americans now face, Council members are united in their conviction that America’s best days lie ahead. But we need a sense of urgency and a bias for action. We won’t make progress together unless each of us is willing to change. As you’ll learn from this report, when it comes to accelerating a siting permit or issuing visas, there are always a hundred reasons to delay action. But there are 25 million other reasons to act now. When 25 million Americans who want full-time work can’t find it, each of us has a duty to think and act differently. These are not ordinary times. We owe it to our fellow citizens desperate to get back to work to act on these common-sense ideas without delay.