Author: Kochan, Thomas A.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Without a well-trained, well-paid, continuously improving workforce the United States cannot compete with other nations effectively—and won’t be able to sustain high and rising living standards. Yet at all levels of the economy, we behave as if we don’t believe that: Firms value short-term profits over investment in workers; federal policy makers fail to address high, persistent unemployment and underemployment; most people’s wages have stagnated for three decades, despite gains in productivity; and unions have become convenient scapegoats even as their influence has sharply declined. These realities seem to defy logic, yet we allow this human capital paradox to persist. The result: a true national emergency.
Indeed, the U.S. is stuck in the worst economic, political, and social crisis since the Great Depression. The labor market is failing to generate enough jobs of sufficient quality to support sustainable growth. If we do not pursue a more comprehensive, aggressive strategy, our standard of living will decline for generations to come. But this downward slide is not inevitable. We can reverse the trend by identifying the roots of the crisis and focusing together on our national interests.