Joel Kotkin’s The Next Hundred Million

February 4, 2010
Jessica DuLong profile photo
Jessica DuLong


Here’s Joel Kotkin talking about his new book The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 on WNYC:


“We send too many people to four-year colleges and we don’t teach people skills that are useful in the economy … The system is tilted toward the financial as opposed to production. I think we need to make some very strong changes.”


It is such a relief to finally see this shift in thinking coming from so many different corners. The fact is, manufacturing tops the list of the 7 key industries that are considered most important to the U.S. economy. Even in the midst of today’s staggering joblessness, there are hundreds of thousands of high-paying blue-collar positions open.


Despite the fact that employers are hungry to hire skilled welders, electricians, elevator repair technicians, CNC machinists and others into advanced manufacturing jobs, only 17% of young people say they want a job in manufacturing. And only 30% of parents say they’d support their kids learning a trade.


What we’re up against here is the myth that working with your hands means you don’t use your brain, and the stereotype that doing blue-collar work means having a miserable, dirty, rote, dead-end job. How is it that we lost touch of the craftsmanship required in the trades? How can we get back in touch with our roots as a country that’s proud to make things?


I’m grateful to people like Joel Kotkin and Gabriel Thompson for helping to spread the word. The fact is, America’s soul doesn’t exist solely on Wall Street.