“The best social program is a job,” Ronald Reagan once said. This is truer today than ever. It baffles me how leaders in Washington continue to focus on more social programs (such as health care reform) rather than what has made this nation the great economic engine it is.
What Americans need are more jobs. Oklahoma is a perfect example of where business ownership and entrepreneurs create job opportunities. Forbes magazine recently ranked the top 10 best cities for young business founders; Tulsa topped the list at No. 1. Oklahoma City was ranked No. 5.
I've had many encounters with the unemployed in my 47 years in the employment industry. When we help people find a job, we help restore their confidence and provide them hope. Seeing a person find a job is one of my greatest joys.
While the unemployment rate has steadily decreased from its high of 10 percent in October 2009 to 7.3 percent last month, the percentage of Americans in the labor force hasn't risen. It's actually fallen about 2.7 percentage points since the onset of the latest recession. This is a tragedy in the making. Its impact on the country has been underestimated.
Many of the 4 million jobs open in America are going unfilled. We simply don't have people available with the right skills to fill the positions that are open. Machinists, welders, medical professionals, accountants and IT positions are among the top hard-to-fill positions. We're not graduating enough people in these occupations. This must change. In addition, more Americans than ever are trapped in taxpayer-funded social safety nets.