A couple of years ago I wrote “The Mosaic Economy,” exploring the question “where are the jobs in today’s economy?”
I like to describe the economy as a “mosaic economy.” The economy is clearly not made up of just one source of jobs, but many different sectors that come together. Rather than an economy in which “everyone” works in fishing or farming or mining or manufacturing, the mosaic economy has many different interdependent parts. And like a mosaic, each time you look, a new picture emerges.
Like many generations before, today’s economy has many stories about emerging new technologies and trends as well as stories about people exploring and reclaiming older, almost-lost knowledge and production techniques.
Themes of personal environment, community connectedness, artisanship, and entrepreneurship are part of the mosaic. A reemergence of manufacturing and agricultural work is also part of the picture. Technology-oriented jobs, and working with software, medical research, green technologies and other emerging fields are part of the mosaic. Interdependent public, nonprofit, and private sector projects and organizations blend together to form the mosaic.
What are the essential elements for a healthy job market in which such a mosaic takes shape? One essential element is the removal of barriers to the free flow of ideas and investments. Education is essential, including options for study of science and technology, vocational/technical skills, career development skills, entrepreneurship skills, community development and community health. Public, nonprofit and private investment is essential. Another essential element that I have written about is the removal of barriers along social, cultural, economic and geographic lines.
As we reflect on the 2016 presidential election, we reflect that this election highlighted the increasing divisions among social, cultural, economic and geographic groups.
But this is not the first national election to highlight geographic divisions. At many other points in history, political and populist movements have highlighted differences such as rural agrarian interests and urban industrialized interests; or heartland manufacturing belt vs. coastal cities.
One of the essential tasks at this point in time is a renewed focus on removing barriers and increasing the flow of ideas and social investments among a wider segment of the country; with a renewed focus on highlighting the economic and social strengths of communities that have been left behind. How would this happen? We would start by looking at history. What are some historical examples of movements and projects that built unity across geographic and social divides? And look at present success stories and statistics. Where are there signs of division? Where are there signs of connectedness? Where are there opportunities for social and economic investments that would bridge current gaps?
More thoughts to come –