A jobless recovery + 10 million unemployed = A wake up call and an opportunity

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Here’s an option: a Triple Bottom Line economy (3BL) instead of the  current consumer/market/unlimited growth and production equals a profitable economy. A 3BL is designed to support people, the planet (plants, animals, land, water, etc.) and businesses concurrently.  This allows us to f measure and monetize all the economic activities where work (and life) takes place. When making choices under a 3BL, all three areas are of equal importance. The result? We can expand the employment sectors that we measure and monetize to 6 employment sectors instead of the current 3.  And voila, instead of a jobless recovery, we’ve created three new areas to absorb the 10 million people who need to be a vibrant part of a thriving 3BL economy.

The 3 new sectors are:

1) Household enterprise: paying for all the work in our home - child care, elder care, cooking, cleaning, and life! We spend almost as much time working in our homes as we do outside the home. But the thing is, we don’t measure and monetize it in the home - only outside. So, if we hire someone to clean house, the GDP goes up and someone gets paid. But if we marry the housekeeper, the GDP goes down and no one gets paid (though the cleaning still has to be done). Pay a stranger to look after your child, and the economy grows.  Take care of your own child, and it has no value in our economic measurement. This back and forth shift between the unpaid household economy and the market economy, where we only measure and monetize if it is in the market economy but not the household economy, needs to stop. If we measure and monetize both sides of this equation, we could almost double economic measurement and GDP. If we paid for this work, we could employ millions of people doing the high quality work necessary for human development and resulting in optimal human life and communities. In doing so, we could raise the bar on the caring work done to professional levels too. This is something we will need since the future will require highly functioning humans - and this requires the best care from day one. In a 3BL economy, paying for this becomes possible because economic measurements include this new employment sector and people, planets and business all benefit.

2) Volunteer work: I suggest a national volunteer service registry, much like Social Security which records our input over our work life.  We could create a department within that agency that would keep the record of  our volunteer work hours (currently valued at over $19/hr nationally) and make it a 'tradable' asset that we can work/save over our lifetime.

[image-1]3) The Natural sector: Giving ‘true value’ to earth’s assets. We currently take these gifts provided by nature for granted and the result is environmental destruction and policies that artificially skew the true cost of our economy. With the natural sector factored in, the costs for renewable energy come in much lower than maintaining our oil dependency.  As well, factoring in the ‘true cost’ could result in millions of more green jobs as we find ways to work in ‘closed-loop’ production cycles that increases output while protecting the earth. The increased output emerges from the fact that along every step of the production cycle—‘waste’ that is produced is no longer tossed but is itself, turned into a new product or service.

The great news about a 3BL economy is that we can easily show the 'cost-benefit' of all three of these new employment sectors being added to the national economy. But the best benefit right now is that it take the “jobless recovery” and turns it into full employment and a thriving economy that honors people, the planet and profits!

Here in the US we've had 0% job growth in the last 10 years.  That’s right, there’s been no net increase of jobs in 10 years.  There are multiple reasons why this is happening. Some of it is because the consumer economy is retracting and frankly needs less and less workers. Technology is also replacing millions of people and we’ve outsourced jobs overseas as a way to continue to cut labor costs out of production. Put it all together and there has been no job growth in the United States.  This is a reality that we knew was happening but we chose to ignore it during the good times. But as this recession continues, it is becoming increasing impossible to maintain our ignorance.

Even as we look forward to this recession ending, over and over again you hear the phrase 'jobless recovery'.  And this makes a lot of sense considering we didn't have job growth in the last 10 years when the economy looked like it was in good shape (Ha!).

So, when you mix a jobless recovery plus 10 million unemployed in the US, what are you looking at?  Well, it isn’t going to look pretty, that’s for sure. Literally  millions will remain unemployed or under-employed and that will not bode well for our future. But it is wrong to believe that we can’t create a solution to this.  We need get out heads out of the sand and recognize that the old model of the consumer economy’s measurement and monetization system no longer is sufficient to meet our needs. We have to come up with a new economic model.  It isn’t as hard as one might imagine. Frankly, it’s the strong suit of the United States—creating new solutions is what we do best!

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