This blog was originally posted at TechElect.org.
Tonight, the vice presidential debate was heavy on foreign policy and light on jobs policy. There was significant attention paid to what’s happening on the ground in Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, and Syria, but too little to the economic challenges facing families in Ohio, Virginia, Texas, and across the United States. I say that not to dismiss the importance of our nation’s foreign policy – it’s central to the work of every president – but rather to point out the contrast given the import of issues in people’s minds.
It’s simple to understand: the economy is the number one issue on people’s minds. All of us want to hear specifics from the candidates. We want them to talk with all of us, as a nation, about the steps they would take in the next four years to kick start job creation, innovation, and lasting economic strength.
We in the tech sector believe we have an approach that appeals to lawmakers in both parties and benefits people in every state. It’s a plan that builds on commonsense ideas to encourage businesses to hire more people, to develop in-demand skills for American workers, and to ensure that the United States remains the center of global innovation. Simply put, we need an “all-of-the-above” economic strategy that goes big on sustained, lasting economic growth while diminishing the partisan rancor that has defined the campaigns and, for too long, the governing philosophies in Washington, D.C.
The technology and innovation sector continues to create jobs, even in the face of the recession. From 2001 to 2011, more than 742,000 information technology (IT) jobs were created. While U.S. jobs shrank by 4.5 percent, IT jobs grew by 6.8 percent. Roughly 85,000 tech job openings in the U.S. are currently posted online. Across the country, the tech sector is hiring, paying above-average wages, and helping to support communities struggling to stay afloat. That strength can serve as a foundation for job growth in all sectors. But it cannot be the only basis for progress. A national jobs and innovation strategy needs to be at the top of our policy priority list in 2013, and we look to the next president to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to enact policies that will drive lasting economic growth.
There are two presidential debates left and 27 days until people vote. Certainly, that’s enough time for the candidates to dial down the campaign-trail rhetoric and dial up their plans for the next four years. We’re all ready to listen.