Monday, April 20, 2009

Investing in Creativity is the Key to Economic Recovery

The Des Moines Register reported on Saturday that Iowa's unemployment rates has risen to 5.2%.

Iowa's unemployment picture darkened in March as the global recession hammered the state's manufacturing industry, pushing factory job losses to 20,400 and driving the jobless rate to 5.2 percent.

The state's unemployment rate was last that high in December 1987, the backside of the farm crisis that pushed the state's unemployment rate to 8.5 percent. A year ago, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent. In February it was 4.9 percent.

Despite more people joining the ranks of unemployed Iowans - which hit 87,800 in March - some analysts believe the state's economic decline is ending. That would start the state's long road to recovery.
That leads to the question of how is the state going to recover. I believe the answer is in renewable energy, education, and creativity.

Iowa has invested in renewable energy and education over the past couple years. State leaders have stressed the development of renewable energy and that investment has pushed Iowa to become the 2nd largest producer of wind energy in the country. Since 2006, the Iowa legislature has invested in early childhood education and have helped teacher salaries rise to 25th in the nation.

Iowa now must invest in harnessing the creative abilities that exists in each community in the state.

From Richard Florida...

Like all advanced economies, ours is in the midst of a great transformation - to an economy in which creativity, skills, and knowledge matter more than strength and muscle… At bottom, today’s challenge is the move from jobs oriented to routine to jobs that hinge on creativity. Routine-oriented workers carry out standardized tasks, often repetitively and in a preset sequence.

Traditionally, many of these jobs have been in manufacturing - Henry Ford’s assembly line is the classic example. But the greater portion of them now are in service occupations: waitresses following standard procedures in restaurants, or clerical staff and their paperwork.

Over the coming decade, they will account for about half of all jobs created in Canada and the U.S. alike. Yet we still undervalue creative jobs and the key skills on which they depend - consider the controversy over funding cuts for research and innovation in the recent federal budget. [...]

If we want a high-wage economy, we also have to ensure that our training programs and schools develop social and analytical skills, and focus our efforts on attracting businesses that invest in the creativity of their workers.

To be successful, we must tap and harness our most important resource: the creative capabilities and talents of all…

We can build upon what makes our communities unique and what talents people have to create business, improve local communities, and put people to work.

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