When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testified in front of the Senate last month on the state of the economy, he pulled out a peculiar phrase to describe the job market. While U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs a month at the end of 2011 and into 2012, he noted that the numbers had since tanked; in the second quarter, only 75,000 jobs were added each month. Looking up from his prepared remarks, Bernanke declared a "loss of momentum in job creation."
That's not a loss of momentum, that's a crisis. And we want your help.
Everyday we read and see how that crisis rips through the country: families using up their savings; grads moving back home with career dreams deferred; the longtime jobless giving up hope. Twenty million people unemployed or underemployed. Though July's jobs numbers showed a ray of hope -- 163,000 new positions added -- the unemployment rate didn't budge at 8.3%.
And on the other side are the companies who want to fill jobs and can't. In May, there were 3.6 million jobs sitting vacant. The reasons range from companies being unable to find people with the right skills to employers being too picky. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner called attention to this in Fortune last year, and offered a 3-point plan. But the situation remains stubbornly unchanged.
Recently, we launched a group, Opportunity: What Is Working, dedicated to uncovering solutions from people who are closest to the situation. As a professional, you're on the front lines hiring, being hired, starting companies and organizations or joining them. What have you seen, read or heard that might make a dent?
This is your place to share great ideas, critique others', offer relevant insight -- or offer a helping hand.
We're working closely with The Huffington Post to make sure the best ideas get widely shared. Top discussions and comments will show up on the Huffington Post's Opportunity: What Is Working news page. And the site's writers and bloggers will be engaging with members in the group. As founder Arianna Huffington explained to me, "The media focuses on what is dysfunctional and not working, but the role of the media is also to put spotlight on what is working." (Her post announcing the initiative can be found here.)
The timing of this -- launching in the heat of election season -- isn't, of course, a coincidence.
While the political conversation is fractious and only going to get worse as we approach Nov. 6, the conversation about getting people back to work is a rare chance to find some unity. "I'm optimistic that professionals rallying around a common cause will help shape good ideas into great ones," says Weiner.
Some of the other companies and organizations working on this initiative include Starbucks, The Ford Foundation, The Skoll Foundation, Startup America, and Valencia College. Their executives will be in the group, sharing information, listening and asking for advice.
Please join today and help us find the path forward.
Follow Daniel Roth on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danroth