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Workforce USA

by Miki Saxon

Were you shocked when you learned that the US didn’t make the top ten in healthcare, based on criteria of quality, access, efficiency, equity and healthy lives?

It’s fairly well accepted that the U.S. is the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but many continue to falsely assume that we pay more for healthcare because we get better health (or better health outcomes).

The top ten in order are United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Germany & Netherlands (tied), New Zealand & Norway (tied), France and Canada.

The US has long been the subject of global envy for the financial strength of our middle class, but no more.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

What does this mean for those who graduated into the 2008 financial meltdown, one in five of whom have moved back with their parents?

And while much of the discussion about economic inequality has centered on the top 1 percent, it’s the gap between the top 20 percent and the rest that’s more salient to young people. (…) This uncomfortable fact, which many economists have recently accepted, suggests that we are living not simply in an unequal society but rather in two separate, side-by-side economies.

But cheer up; you only have to be in the 95th percentile, not the 1%, to be back among the envied.

How can that be? What about all the jobs created by companies such as Google and Facebook?

It’s easy to understand if you consider what the fastest growing jobs in the US are.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

As to American inventiveness and the much ballyhooed entrepreneurial spirit so richly displayed by a few Millennials, consider which actually is the most innovative country in the world.

Germany does a better job on innovation in areas as diverse as sustainable energy systems, molecular biotech, lasers, and experimental software engineering. (…)  But the fairy tale that the U.S. is better at radical innovation than other countries has been shown in repeated studies to be untrue. Germany is just as good as the U.S. in the most radical technologies.

What’s more important, Germany is better at adapting inventions to industry and spreading them throughout the business sector. Much German innovation involves infusing old products and processes with new ideas and capabilities or recombining elements of old, stagnant sectors into new, vibrant ones.

Perhaps it’s time for us—business leaders, religious leaders, politicians of all flavors and just plain folks—to take our collective heads out of the sand and do what it takes to turn things around.

Image credit: BLS

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