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Lobbyists Ask, Then Write, 'Where The Jobs Are'

When most lobbyists exit a meeting on Capitol Hill, they leave behind a one-pager, or, if they’re really ambitious, maybe a 30-page report.

John Dearie and Courtney Geduldig can offer something a lot bigger. The K Street duo wrote a 200-plus-page book, “Where the Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy,” an accessible read — based largely on a 2011 summer road trip — that delves into some serious economic policy matters.

Don’t expect any Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouac-style escapades when Dearie and Geduldig hit the road. But in dozens of roundtables with entrepreneurs around the country and from work with the Kauffman Foundation, the lobbyists-turned-authors explore the post-recession jobs crisis and lay out what they believe are the policy solutions.

They weigh in on a number of contentious debates: immigration, taxes, regulations. No matter which side of the aisle you hail from, there is something in this book you will hate and something you will embrace. “So we think we’ve got it just about right,” Dearie, who is executive vice president for policy at the Financial Services Forum, told CQ Roll Call during a recent interview.

The goal of their journey was not initially to write a book, but to put together a detailed report on the employment picture. They noted that by 2011, amid the sluggish economic recovery, millions of unemployed Americans had given up looking for work or had taken part-time jobs when they wanted full-time work. Dearie and Geduldig wanted to understand what was going on in the labor market to see if they could offer policies to solve the problem.

They soon realized they had a book to write. “By the time we laid out the problem, we were at 35 pages,” said Geduldig, a former banking aide to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. She is now vice president of government and regulatory affairs for McGraw Hill Financial.

At the time, Geduldig and Dearie both worked at the forum and they got the group to sign over the rights of their research. They found an agent in New York and ultimately sold the book to the publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Their biggest revelation, they say, is discovering where new jobs come from. Though many in Washington, D.C., talk about small businesses as the job creators and others work to protect tax incentives and other policies for existing big businesses, it turns out that startups, fledgling new businesses — think the future Googles — are the best hope for new jobs.

They write that “the reputation of small business as the engine of job creation is inaccurate — or, perhaps better stated, imprecise.” Existing companies, according to census data and Kauffman Foundation research, shed jobs every year, about 1 million of them. Startups, by contrast, add an average of 3 million net new jobs annually.

“I was absolutely shocked, flabbergasted,” Dearie said. “I didn’t know that new businesses were responsible for virtually all net new job creation.”

The problem? “Unfortunately, the vital signs for America’s job-creating entrepreneurial economy are flashing red alert,” they write.

Fewer Americans are starting businesses and the ones that have opened are struggling. That prompted the summer road trip to such places as York, Pa.; New York City; Memphis, Tenn.; Seattle; and Kansas City, Mo.

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