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Jobs: “Not really going to get any better. This is reality,” Says Leading Exec Search Firm CEO

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Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn/Ferry, the world's largest executive search firm. He spoke with Talking Numbers about the economy, American jobs and the future of employment in the US.

With employment data out today, we asked Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry, the world’s largest executive search firm, about the future of American jobs and the economy.

Here are some highlights:

On CEOs hiring workers:

  • “You’re still seeing CEOs being very caution. They’re plowing money ironically into things that could actually reduce employee headcount and drive efficiency. And, everyone is fighting for growth”
  • “We’re our own worst enemy. You have this massive shift over two or three decades to a service based economy and knowledge workers.”

On the future of American jobs:

  • “What you’re seeing right now… it is what it is and I don’t think it’s going to get any better. This is reality”.
  • “I think there will be insourcing over time. I’ve lived in China and the reality is that the cost and turnover there is quite high. I think it will slowly, slowly return.”
  • “If you’re coming out of college, it’s STEM – science, technology, engineering, math – it’s all about education. And, that determines workers’ earnings for life. We’re not punching red buttons and green buttons anymore.”

One what America can do to improve jobs:

  • “We’ve got to export America. We’ve got to continue to tap consumerism that’s outside these borders. The reality is that 2/3rds of the world’s middle class is going to be in Asia in about 15 years. So, we’ve got to continue to export America.”

On the higher stock market’s impact on jobs:

  • “The top line’s not growing… That’s why with CEOs like myself, there’s this fight for growth. We have squeezed everything out of the bottom line and now we’re continuing to invest in software to disintermediate even more jobs. But you really don’t have that conspicuous consumer that you had for a long, long time. You just don’t see that top line moving.”
  • “Does the stock market, as a CEO, make me sleep a little better at night? Sure, but it’s not going to result in more hiring necessarily. “

On whether the employment situation will improve:

  • “There’s still a lot of promise but you’ve got to face reality. There’s massive shift over two or three decades here and we’ve just got to slog through it.”

For more of Gary Burnison’s interview, watch the video above.

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