Actually bringing back jobs and growth, on the other hand, will be more of a challenge. Trump has committed to creating 25 million American jobs over the next 10 years. That’s about 18 million jobs more than economists are currently forecasting, per The Economist.
Let’s leave aside for a moment whether it’s even possible to boost job growth to that degree. Meeting the challenge of accelerating job creation would require more than offering tax incentives (or penalties in the form of high tariffs for companies that leave).
That’s because the real job killer facing any president in the 21st century isn’t competition from overseas: it’s automation. Even if Trump were able to dismantle every trade agreement and encourage employers to build their factories in the U.S., decision-makers will still opt for cheap, robot-enhanced productivity instead of expensive human labor.
Here are a few ideas that Trump might want to consider to boost employment in the age of automation:
Form a jobs task force.
“Another idea for the new president’s first hundred days would be to commission a public/private task force on the future of employment—not the usual paper and study–fest, but an informal incubator of innovative ideas that includes a broad range of thinkers,” writes Daniel J. Arbess at Fortune.
America’s innovators have already shown willingness to meet with Trump, regardless of their own political beliefs. A potential jobs task force could include some big names. It might also produce actionable ideas, especially if POTUS insists, as Arbess suggests, that the members “come up with some concrete answers.”
Embrace green energy jobs.
OK, OK – we didn’t say that all of these ideas were likely to meet with a receptive ear. Trump’s energy plan centers around fossil fuels. Per An America First Energy Plan on Whitehouse.gov:
Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own.
However, as a big believer in the free market, Trump should consider that renewable energy is often cheaper than fossil fuels. Even with oil at rock-bottom prices, wind and solar are growing.
“While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving,” writes Tom Randall at Bloomberg. “Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.”
In fact, Wind Turbine Service Technician is expected to be one of the fastest growing occupations in the next few years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that it will grow by 108 percent from 2014 to 2024.
Invest in infrastructure.
If there’s one thing that Trump and Clinton agreed on during the election cycle, it’s that America’s infrastructure needs a serious upgrade. Building roads and bridges doesn’t just benefit the country in terms of safety and accessibility; it also has the potential to create jobs.
The Brookings Institution notes that infrastructure jobs “offer more equitable wages, require less formal education for entry, and are projected to grow over the next decade, they represent a key area of consideration for policymakers aiming to address the country’s ongoing infrastructure and jobs deficit.”
Whitehouse.gov appears to refer to infrastructure only in the context of energy production from fossil fuels: “We will use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure.”
However, Trump’s campaign site promised “thousands of new jobs in construction, steel manufacturing, and other sectors to build the transportation, water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure needed to enable new economic development in the U.S.”
Time — and site updates — will tell what his plans will be.
Tell Us What You Think
What’s the best way to create jobs in the U.S.? We want to hear your opinion. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.