As the 2012 presidential election enters the home stretch, there seems to be little doubt that jobs and the economy will dominate not only the presidential debates but also the national conversation. Just what should the next president do to get the national unemployment rate to below 8 percent, where it hasn't been since January 2009, the month President Obama took office?
According to a McKinsey study, "jobless recoveries" have become the norm since 1948. While it took about six months for the economy to recover from recessions through the 1980s, it took 15 months after the 1990-91 recession and 39 months after the 2001 recession; it's projected that it will take 60 months this time, in large part because of structural changes in the economy.
Perhaps as a result of both this jobs shortage and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's private career as a management consultant at Bain Capital, the issue of outsourcing -- sending jobs overseas -- has re-emerged as a hot topic in this election cycle. How is outsourcing (also known as "offshoring") affecting job creation? What should the president do about U.S. companies sending jobs abroad?
What follows are a range of opinions on the subject that were shared with AOL Jobs -- from economists, union activists, executives and even a worker whose job was outsourced. After you read their ideas, tell us: What do you think the next president -- whether that's President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney -- should do to put Americans back to work? Share in the comments section below.
What Should The President Do To Put Americans Back To Work?
How To Get Americans Back To Work: Advice For The President
"We have sold our souls for the dollars. Tax [the employer] so it doesn't make sense to outsource. There is someone in America who can fill all these jobs. So give tax breaks to companies that give American workers a chance through night school for new training. You don't have to be a bleeding heart liberal to know something isn't right with outsourcing."
Hawkins Maybee's job as an operation IT worker was outsourced abroad by T-Mobile in 2008.
"The American economy has moved way beyond outsourcing abroad or even 'insourcing.' Most big companies headquartered in America don't send jobs overseas and don't bring jobs here from abroad. That's because most are no longer really 'American' companies. They've become global networks....
"...The way we get good jobs back is with a national strategy to make Americans more competitive -- retooling our schools, getting more of our young people through college or giving them a first-class technical education, remaking our infrastructure, and thereby guaranteeing that a large share of Americans add significant value to the global economy."
These comments originally appeared in a column by Reich published in July by TheChicago Tribune.
Reich, who served from 1993-97 in the administration of President Bill Clinton is the author of, "Beyond Outrage." He also blogs at robertreich.org as well as for The Huffington Post.
"Any company that is planning to leave [the U.S.] should be asked by the [federal government] exactly why it is leaving. The employer should be required to provide the administration -- by subpoena if necessary -- all of the financial incentives that are being offered by foreign countries. The administration should counter that offer with one of equal or better value."
McCormack is the editor of Manufacturing and Technology News.
"There's no silver bullet. I would like to see the president encourage more Americans to buy American-made products. He should be an ambassador for American products. It's important for Americans to buy American-made products because it supports local, small businesses. And this has been proven time and time again.
"Secondly, he should support unions more strongly. In 2007, [then presidential candidate Barack Obama] said, 'I'll walk the picket lines.' And then in Wisconsin, where was he?"
Middlemark is the founder of Outsaurus.com.
"Outsourcing is not even a relevant term anymore. Thanks to information technology, the world is truly 'flat,' and there's nothing any president can do about it. Tariffs and protectionism are dead-end strategies. Only innovation drives an economy like America's these days.
"If we can keep creating wonderful new things like the Internet, biomedical breakthroughs, and reality shows the whole world wants to see, we'll be OK. But any job that does not require one's physical presence is not to be taken for granted. So if you're a radiologist reading X-rays or a tax accountant, you might might want to learn ... cutting hair or fixing cars."
Wing was a co-writer of the movie and television show of the same name, "Outsourced."
"Have big goals like balancing trade and creating 4 million manufacturing jobs in five years and restoring manufacturing to 20 percent of GDP. The president should push Congress to pass currency manipulation legislation that is sitting in the House Ways and Means Committee. Eliminate the deferral of offshore profits and other tax incentives that encourage this behavior. Invest at scale in the research and development and the nation’s public and energy infrastructure, but do it strategically. Use the financial leverage of these investments and 'Buy America' laws to work with industry to capture the technology, innovation and jobs from our investments.
"Finally, training works best when there are real jobs with good wages and benefits available. That takes goals, strategy and investment."
Baugh is the executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council.
"A far-sighted president should implement policies that encourage U.S. companies to grow and become more competitive. Outsourcing is one of several well established mechanisms by which companies can improve their position.
"This improvement in competitiveness will often result in job loss driven by increased efficiency, increased automation and, in some cases, work being moved to low-cost countries. This job loss is truly regrettable, especially for the individuals affected. However, the increase in competitiveness contributes to more successful companies, which in turn grow and add jobs in the U.S. -- more than offsetting the job loss caused by the initial act of outsourcing."
Bendor-Samuel is the CEO of the Everest Group, which is a global research and advisory firm that helps companies implement outsourcing policies.