I don’t know about you, but I would have a hard time getting out of bed every morning knowing the work I do only serves 2% of the residents in my community. When that alarm goes off, I want to get out of bed knowing the work I do can potentially have a positive impact on 100% of the people in my community.
As an economic developer, I am guessing you feel the same way. Yet, focusing on job creation as a performance metric is in fact suggesting your work is limited to impacting 2% of residents.
How do I get there from here?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in September 2014 is 5.9%.
But, not every resident in the 5.9% would be considered for employment by a company in your community looking to expand or a company you are attracting to establish an operation in your community. The MWN Employability Index provides a more realistic look at the percentage that would actually be considered as part of the employable pool available for the new jobs you are seeking to have created.
According to the MWN, 12% of unemployed are actually unemployable. They lack the skills necessary to be considered for any level of responsibility. Of the remaining unemployed residents, 48% are marginally employed. They are either not smart enough or motivated enough for an educational experience beyond high school. The balance of 40% are either marginally, very or highly employable. These residents represent the talent pool within the unemployed population and are the only people most companies would consider interviewing for a job.
That means the new jobs you focus so hard on getting created have the potential to impact only 2.3% (5.9% * 40%) of the resident population in your community. And, of course, that is being generous since some of the new jobs will actually be filled by people from outside of your community.
On the other hand, virtually every resident of your community wants to achieve more of their American Dream. Jobs is only part of the definition of the American Dream. According to Xavier University research, the American Dream is actually comprised of thirty-five dimensions which can be clustered into five broad areas – economic status, personal well-being, societal relationship, diversity friendliness and environment quality.
Focusing on better enabling residents in your community to achieve their American Dream allows you to potentially impact the lives of 100% of residents in your community. I don’t know how you feel, but I believe the economic development profession should serve 100% of residents, not just 2%.
Change your focus from Job growth to better enabling residents to achieve their American Dream and when that alarm goes off at o-dark-thirty tomorrow morning, I bet you’ll find an extra spring in your step to start your day.