The Coming Jobs War

Book Review by Charles Lehman

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, believes that, globally, there are not enough good long term full time salaried jobs, much less great jobs, to meet the growing needs and aspirations of the world’s population. As this situation worsens, the fiercest competition of the future will be for those jobs. Societies that create them through economic activity will advance; the remaining nations will stagnate or decline. Therefore economic, rather than military or political, power will become the primary measure of national strength.


The author is very concerned that the United States is not faring well in job creation and could lose out, particularly to China, unless there are some major changes which he enumerates:

  • Foremost is an increase in entrepreneurial activity which commercializes innovation and inventions (such as the internet) and which he considers the major reason for the US job growth over the last 60 years. Domestic entrepreneurship must be fully supported, implemented at all levels of education, and more foreign entrepreneurs attracted to the US

  • School graduation rates must improve through relating education to work and encouraging student success

  • Employee performance in the workplace must be improved by better management and identifying and utilizing individual strengths.

  • Exports must be greatly increased by improving customer services and relationships.

  • Unsustainable healthcare costs must be reduced through widespread adoption of well being behaviors such as diet and exercise.

Most of the changes must be driven by local community and educational leaders; the national government is not capable of accomplishing these changes in his opinion.



The author makes some good points in emphasizing how globalization of economic activity will become critical in determining the future rise and fall of nations and particularly how that relates to jobs. He identifies and explains important educational and economic activities that the US must accomplish to successfully compete.


Some of his implementation solutions could be debated such as

  • Innovation and entrepreneurship may not necessarily result in sizable job growth as in the past due to automation, new less labor intensive technologies, and the outsourcing of jobs overseas.

  • Graduation rates are dependent on a number of social and educational factors beyond encouragement and the understanding it will lead to work.

  • China has raised exports through prices, not customer service

  • National government roles are important in such areas as attracting foreign entrepreneurs and providing research and development and educational funding.


Importance to Career Development

While the book is directed toward local leaders there are a number of elements that strongly impact career development. The analysis and conclusions, even if they do not wholly correct and do not play out exactly as the author anticipates, have major implications for career counseling. Career educator and counselors will play an important role in addressing many of the concerns raised and the solutions proposed.


  • The author makes it clear that as important as jobs and careers are now they will be even more so in the future.

  • Employment may well be the overriding issue of the early 21st century, nationally and internationally.

  • The future of the US as a world power will be dependent on how good our labor market is.

  • Workers will be in even more world wide competition and must realize they have to function at their very best to succeed.

  • Counselors will continue to be very important in providing the important connection between school and jobs to encourage graduation, a basic requirements for national as will as their success.

  • Career assessment of worker interests, aptitudes and abilities enables management and employees to better identify their strengths as a way to better utilize their talents and create a more productive labor market is a major recommendation of the author.

  • Entrepreneurship will become a very important career choice so counselors need to help their clients consider this option as appropriate.


Author of the Coming Jobs War

Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO of Gallup. This book is based in large part on his company’s Gallup Worldwide Poll and the Gallup Path economic model. His expectation of a major employment crisis is receiving a lot of national attention and should be of interest to career educators and counselors.




Charles LehmanCharles Lehman runs an economic consulting company in Albuquerque, NM. He retired from the New Mexico Department of Labor where he worked on labor market information and supervised state wide implementation of the Workforce Investment Act. He is a charter member of the New Mexico Career Development Association. He may be contacted at CLehman@nm.net.


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Cynthia Marco Scanlon   on Tuesday 05/01/2012 at 10:40 PM

Wonderful job, Charles - excellent review of a book that I need to read ASAP! THanks!

Elisabeth Sanders-Park   on Wednesday 05/02/2012 at 08:35 AM

Thank you for the review, Charles. I recently read 'The Coming Jobs War' and found it very interesting. It offers useful framework for thinking, and many possible steps forward in these challenging times.

Ellen Weaver Paquette   on Wednesday 05/02/2012 at 11:01 AM


Many thanks for your review, it will become an additional to my graduate career counseling class reading.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.