Job Quality Essential to Job Growth

November 19, 2008

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While a burgeoning economy is a critical job growth enabler, it's not the "end all, be all," according to a recent report. Quality of employment plays a vital role in employment rate.

"While it is clear that unemployment has a corrosive effect on physical and mental health, there is equally strong evidence to show that a good job is better than a bad job," according to findings in a recent report.

In its Good Work: Job Quality in a Changing Economy, report, published in September, U.K-based research firm The Work Foundation asserts that the government should concentrate on the quality of employment if it wants to achieve an 80 percent employment rate and reduce child poverty. Too many people are trapped in a "revolving door" of bad, short-term jobs and joblessness, according to the report.

"The case for full employment and quality jobs go hand in hand," David Coats, co-lead author of the report, said in a statement. "The priority must not just be to get people off benefits and back to work but to keep people in work.

"The 'rights and responsibilities' rhetoric is fair enough, but what's missing from politicians is any sense of what good, sustainable jobs are and how to go about creating them," according to Coats, who is associate director-policy of The Work Foundation as well as a member of the Central Arbitration Committee (the U.K.'s industrial court).

The report argues that "good jobs involve stimulating, challenging and varied work, good relationships with colleagues and employers, along with opportunities for progression and development." Additional key factors include job security, a guarantee of fair treatment by their employers, control for workers over their work and a proper balance between workers' efforts and rewards.

In the United States, California might be more akin to traffic, smog and wildfires than the poster child for how to create exciting, sustainable jobs, but that's exactly what the oft-troubled state is becoming, according to a recent news item in the Pasadena Star News. California's innovative energy policies created 1.5 million jobs over the past 35 years and saved consumers more than $56 billion on energy costs, according to a Next 10 study, titled The Energy Efficiency, Innovation and Job Creation Report in California, released last month.

"Our analysis provides solid evidence that California's legacy of energy policy has grown the economy," Roland-Holst, University of California professor and author of the study, said in a statement. "At this pivotal moment in history, as global markets teeter on the financial edge, our study reveals the economic power of energy innovation and efficiency... ."

The Pasadena Star News reports:

The jobs California's energy-efficient policies created made for a total payroll of more than $45 billion during the same 1972-2006 period, the report said. And if California improves its energy efficiency by just 1 percent per year, proposed state climate policies will increase the Gross State Product by about $76 billion, increasing real household incomes by up to $48 billion and creating as many as 403,000 more jobs, according to the study.

California's economy would be in a "significantly more vulnerable position today" if the state hadn't implemented strategies to reduce harmful emissions more than three decades ago, the report adds. Energy is certainly one route to take when creating new jobs.

"If you don't like this economy (and who does?), and want to be part of a new economy instead, you might want to move to Massachusetts or Washington or Maryland," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this week. "Those states lead the nation in having the right stuff for a 'new economy' of highly skilled, highly technical and highly paid workers."

The 2008 State New Economy Index by research group Information Technology and Innovation Foundation "considered everything from workers' education levels and each state's number of high-tech jobs to exports, entrepreneurship and initial public offerings." The study says that "more successful 'new economy' states...invested in programs designed to expand their high-tech workforce, foster entrepreneurship and promote global trade."

Delaware and New Jersey rounded out the top five states. Another comes closer to the heartland of America, according to the latest annual Global Location Trends report from IBM Global Business Services. Released last month, the IBM report ranks Indiana first in international job attraction and second overall for attracting foreign production jobs.

Says Inside Indiana Business:

The report, which registered more than 10,000 foreign investment project announcements made in 2007 across the world, includes top international investments in Indiana made in 2007 such as FoxConn, TS Tech, SMC Corporation, ArcelorMittal and others. Since 2005, international companies have invested more than $8 billion into their Indiana operations, creating more than 15,800 new jobs.

"There has been a significant amount of investment going to a range of locations that were previously 'off the map' for foreign investment projects," said Roel Spee, global location strategies leader of IBM Global Business Services, said in a statement.

Yet the U.S. remains the leading economy for job creation around the world, with U.S.-headquartered companies responsible for 25 percent of the 1.2 million jobs created through foreign investment last year, according to the IBM report. "[A]nd Indiana confirms its ranking among the leading states in several categories," Spee told Inside Indiana Business.

Besides green sources of energy and multinational investment, what other innovative strategies should be deployed to create more quality jobs?

Resources

'Good Work': Job Quality in a Changing Economy by David Coats The Work Foundation, September 2008

More 'Good Work' Needed to Boost Jobs and Cut Child Poverty by Stephen Overell The Work Foundation, Sept. 18, 2008

New UC Report Finds Past and Future State Energy Policies Deliver Needed Economic Advantage Next 10, Oct. 20, 2008

Energy Efficiency, Innovation, and Job Creation in California by David Roland-Holst Next 10

Report: Energy Policies Create Jobs, Save Money by Kevin Smith Pasadena Star-News, Oct. 21, 2008

Global Location Trends IBM Global Business Services, October 2008

IBM Study Reveals Global Location Trends IBM, Oct. 21, 2008

The 2008 State New Economy Index by Robert Atkinson and Scott Andes Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Nov. 18, 2008

Georgia Not Among Future Economic Hot Spots, Study Says by Bob Keefe The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 19, 2008

Indiana Leads The Nation in Attracting Foreign Jobs Inside Indiana Business, Oct. 22, 2008

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