Winning the Future: Can Americans Put Their Passions to Work?

Curtis Valentine – Humanitarian aid professional, community organizer,

and political consultant

Posted: January 27, 2011 04:00 PM


For many Americans, the most appropriate remedy for reducing the impact of the recession is a college degree. And even though the unemployment rate for college-educated Americans reached its all time high of 5.1% in December 2010, it remains half of the national average. The U.S. Census suggests that over their lifetime Americans who matriculate through college earn, on average, twice as much as those with only a high school diploma. For all intents and purpose a college degree is the greatest determinant for a financially stable life. But does a college degree guarantee you will have a job that matches your passion?

The argument for promoting a more impassioned workforce is not only moral, but rational and economical. A Gallup poll published in Perspectives on Psychological Science found that where employees have positive perceptions of their jobs, their organizations benefit from higher retention, increased customer loyalty, and improved financial outcomes. In a time when America is trying to recover from a recession and compete on a global stage it’s important that its businesses operate in the most efficient and cost effective way.

While the increase of unemployed Americans turning to community colleges to train for new careers can be seen as a silver lining of the recession, others have been pushed out of jobs they’ve loved. The recession has only exacerbated the amount of Americans who report unhappiness with their job. According to a survey by the Conference Board Research Group only 45 % of Americans are satisfied with their jobs — the lowest level ever recorded by the group in more than 22 years.

The source of unhappiness for many Americans included how disinterested