“Three years ago John Dearie and Courtney Geduldig, who both worked for the Financial Services Forum, which represents America’s biggest financial institutions, came up with an inspired idea. Why not ask entrepreneurs themselves what is going wrong? Both big multinationals and established small firms have lots of representatives in Washington, DC. Entrepreneurs are too busy inventing their companies to spend time lobbying. The pair organized meetings and conducted lots of polls. Across a vast and diverse country they heard the same message from everyone they asked: entrepreneurship is in a parlous state. And everyone pointed to the same problems. The result is a new book, “Where the Jobs Are”, which should be dropped onto the heads of America’s squabbling politicians.”
During the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and the difficult year that followed, nearly 9 million American jobs were eliminated. The damage to U.S. labor markets was the most extensive, in both absolute and percentage terms, since the Great Depression, destroying all employment growth over the prior decade. Just as alarmingand in stark contrast to the historical pattern of deep recessions being followed by sharp reboundsmore than four years into the recovery, economic growth remains stalled and 24 million working-age Americans remain jobless, underemployed, or have left the workforce discouraged.
Perhaps most worrying, Washington seems out of ideas. Having done what history teaches must be done, policymakers now seem at a loss for what to do next.
With the hope of generating new policy alternatives, co-authors John Dearie and Courtney Geduldig launched an effort in April of 2011 to understand the nature and scope of the damage to U.S. labor markets and, if possible, identify new ways to enhance the economy's job-creating capacity. Shortly after they began their investigation, they learned of research that demonstrates how virtually all net new job creation in the United States over the past 30 years has come from businesses less than a year oldtrue "start-ups."
Stunned, they realized that Washington policymakers too often overlook and neglect the economy's true engine of job creationnew businesses. Investigating further, they also learned that America's job creation machine is faltering, with the rate of start-up formation declining precipitously in recent years.
To find out why, they launched an ambitious summer road tripconducting roundtables with entrepreneurs in 12 cities across the nation. More than 200 entrepreneurs participated in these roundtables, explaining in specific terms the obstacles that are undermining their efforts to launch new businesses, expand existing young firms, and create jobs. Dearie and Geduldig came away from their summer journey struck most of all by the nation's stunning entrepreneurial dynamism. Another major takeawaywhich is enormously significant from the standpoint of potential policy solutionsis that entrepreneurs from Austin to Boston and from Seattle to Orlando face the same burdens, frustrations, and difficulties.
The summer on the road with American entrepreneurs made several critical realities vividly clear: First, young businesses are extremely fragile, and yet, those new businesses that survive tend to grow and create jobs at very rapid rates. Second, the policy needs and priorities of new businesses are unique. Policies intended to enhance the circumstances of large corporations or even existing small businesseshowever well intendedoften miss the needs of new businesses. Third, policy help for America's job creators is urgently needed. Given the critical role they play in our nation's economy, America's young businesses need a comprehensive and preferential policy framework designed to cultivate and nurture start-ups.
Fortunately, Dearie and Geduldig now know what needs to be done. Meeting and listening to America's entrepreneurs revealed with unprecedented clarity and precision the major obstacles undermining their ability to launch new businesses, grow those businesses, and create new American jobs. In Where the Jobs Are, they present 30 specific policy proposals based on what the nation's job creators told them they need. The resulting policy agenda amounts to an altogether new, uniquely credible, and vitally important game plan for unleashing the job creating capacity of America's powerful entrepreneurial economy and putting a beleaguered nation back to work.