By Rich Cooper, Vice President, Research & Emerging Issues
What do a Fortune 500 CEO, a billionaire called Chuck and a media-mogul-turned-big-city-mayor have in common? In the last week, they’ve shared ideas on what it will take to create jobs and grow America’s economy.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and chairman of Charles Schwab Corporation Charles “Chuck” Schwab, and CEO of Electronic Arts (EA) John Riccitiello have all stepped forward to talk about what we need to do to create jobs and return America to its full economic strength.
These private sector leaders are not running for political office but for higher employment rates. At a time when Americans hear a lot of talk but do not see much action from policy makers in Washington, these influential voices are spreading ideas that will get America moving again. Each of these guys has a significant track record of job creation and knows what they’re talking about when it comes to economic recovery. Here’s a breakdown of what they have to teach us.
Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor
Source: Office of the Mayor - nyc.gov
Speaking before an assembly of public and private sector leaders at a National Chamber Foundation Business Horizons program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg (also founder and owner of the $6.9 billion financial news and information giant Bloomberg LP) highlighted a central issue in job creation and economic growth: high-skilled immigration. Growing companies create jobs, and America must have a pool of the world’s best and brightest to fill those positions. Often, those best suited for the complex, challenging jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are not American, though many are educated in U.S. universities and colleges. Yet, of all U.S. visas handed out each year, only 15 percent are provided with consideration for America’s economic benefit (the remaining 85 percent are given for reuniting families and helping people escape harm in other countries).
“Allocating only 15 percent based on economics is holding us back,” said Bloomberg. “We cannot afford to keep turning away people with skills our country needs to grow. We must expand the number of green cards available for best of the best, the high-skilled workers we want to join the U.S. economy permanently.”
In the globalized world, America’s businesses compete directly with those in China, India, and elsewhere. Companies must have access to the skilled experts who can best help them do this, no matter their mother country. U.S. immigration policy can be used to foster a higher-skilled workforce, one that makes companies more competitive, starts new businesses, and generally elevates the level of innovation and job creation in the U.S. private sector.
“Foreign students earning advanced degrees in technical fields should be eligible to work here permanently,” said Bloomberg. “Turning students out of the country is about the dumbest thing we could possibly do. There is no such thing as too many engineers, scientists and technical innovators.”
Charles Schwab, Founder and Chairman of Charles Schwab Corporation
Source: Wikimedia Commons
In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, Charles Schwab wrote about the importance of facilitating investment and confidence in businesses. Regulation, higher taxes and decreased spending are all important but insufficient to pull America out of its economic woes. Rather, the success of small, medium and large companies will allow us to grow our way out of economic uncertainty and high unemployment. Encouraging and facilitating the efforts of entrepreneurial Americans is a critical part of this growth.
“The simple fact is that every business in America was started by an entrepreneur, whether it is Ford Motor Co., Google or your local dry cleaner,” said Schwab. “Every single job that entrepreneur creates requires an investment. And at its core, investing requires confidence that despite the risks…the basic rules of the game are clear and stable. Today’s uncertainty on these issues—stemming from a barrage of new complex regulations and legislation—is a roadblock to investment.”
Schwab called on Republicans and Democrats alike to review all legislation with a mind towards job creation and growth. Law makers should put a moratorium on regulation and legislation that hinders growth and should stop introducing new laws until the private sector has “had time to digest those in place and regain some certainty about the future.”
John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts
Photo by Ian Wagreich
At a National Chamber Foundation CEO Leadership Series program last week, John Riccitiello spoke on upheaval in the high-tech industry and shared insight on U.S. job creation. As Bloomberg also noted, companies working in the STEM fields require a high-skilled workforce with the education and intelligence needed to innovate and compete in a tough economic environment.
“For every engineer we hire,” said Riccitiello, “two more support jobs are created.”
Riccitiello highlighted Congressman Jeff Flake’s STAPLE Act, which offers permanent residency to post-secondary education students graduating with a degree in a STEM subject area, and emphasized the importance of encouraging America’s younger generations to master STEM subjects.
Riccitiello also spoke about the need for a more competitive tax structure. Our tax policies should encourage businesses to operate in the United States, offering jobs to qualified Americans.
“Companies move to locations where they find agreeable tax treatment,” he said. “I believe America can better use its tax policies to attract many more jobs.”
The common theme throughout these comments on job creation and economic growth is two-fold: we need a higher-skilled workforce; and legislation that promotes growth and recruits high-skilled workers. Currently, it seems our laws achieve the opposite. For America to remain competitive, we need a change, not more of the same budget cutting, taxing and political showmanship in Washington. Let’s hope our policy makers are listening closely to these and other important voices in the private sector.