Gallup CEO: America Needs More Entrepreneurs

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America needs about a million more startups if it wants to alleviate mass unemployment--that's the argument Gallup CEO Jim Clifton is making in a new LinkedIn post.

"if we don't [reduce unemployment] we might lose our republic and our way of life," writes Clifton. "And I wouldn't fix it with more government 'shovel-ready' jobs or free money from the Federal Reserve. I'd fix it by reviving the spirit of entrepreneurship."

While the U.S Department of Labor reports that unemployment has gone down by 5.9 percent, Clifton points to the 20 million people who are still jobless as evidence of that number's meaninglessness. After all, try telling someone who's been looking for a job for the past two years that things are getting better. You could've fooled them.

The repercussions of mass unemployment are social as much as financial, Clifton argues. To him, the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri was symptomatic of economic as much as racial tensions: "If all those young men in Ferguson had a good job to go to each morning - one where they could feel pride in themselves, feel productive, and be doing something that matters - do you think they would be in the streets, protesting, rioting, and looting? Probably not."

If that sounds facile, it still highlights the fact that there are thousands of Americans with untapped talent--that's why, for Clifton, the way out of the doldrums is through entrepreneurship. Lots and lots of entrepreneurship.

"There are nearly 30 million students in U.S. middle and high schools right now. Early Gallup research reports that about five in 1,000 working-age adults in the U.S. possess the rare talents of entrepreneurship, so that means there are about 150,000 future blue-chip entrepreneurs in fifth through 12th grades now, more in college, and tens of thousands more high-potential adult business builders out there."

The idea that it would even be possible for millions of new startups to spring up overnight is undoubtedly a bit idealistic. Some LinkedIn commenters mentioned the financial impossibility of starting a company for some people: "No one is going to be able to start a business when they already owe over 100k in student loans," wrote financial analyst Alex Baima.

But Clifton also makes the point that up to 50 percent of all jobs are in small business, and that they also create around 65 percent of "new, good jobs." He also calls on city officials to work with the business-minded to foster future entrepreneurship. There's something to what he's saying here--and in dark times, a bit of idealism never hurt anybody.

> Click here to read the full LinkedIn post

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