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Jobs Concerns Dominate Techonomy Conference


This is a jobless recovery. That's the consensus among the heavy hitters here at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Despite the gloom and doom over the employment picture, attendees are brimming with optimism about the long-term potential for technology to generate economic growth around the world.

At the moment, though, we're hearing nothing but concern about high unemployment and the fact that the U.S. is not yet on a path to sustained jobs growth. (The Labor Department's July employment report Friday showed the economy lose 131,000 jobs.)

Here's a snapshot of what a range of experts are saying about the economy:

Jim Breyer: Accel Partners, Wal-Mart, Dell, and Facebook Board Member

"We are certainly in a jobless recovery," Breyer says. The companies he advises remain "extremely cautious" about the economy and jobs—and will remain cautious for the next 12 months. Breyer stressed that the economy is in a "much more difficult" than what the government has said.

Wal-Mart offers Breyer a unique perspective on the state of the consumer, which is still weak: people are waiting for their paychecks to go shopping. Where's the growth? Consumers see value in consumer electronics, that's where they're still spending money.

Bill Joy:  Sun Microsystems Founder, VC Investor

"Corporations are doing better, but the consumer is not," Joy says. "The numbers speak for themselves: this is a jobless recovery."

He says it's too soon to say whether we'll see a double dip.

In order to get out of this downturn, he says it's crucial that the manufacturing sector create jobs.

He says Americans need to start making things again.

In addition to advocating for jobs growth, he believes in the importance of incentives for Americans to implement energy-saving technology in their homes. The good news is that consumers are starting to save more, which is a necessary step, but only part of the solution.

Eric Schmidt:  Google CEO

Schmidt says thatGoogle is hiring, adding jobs in the U.S. and abroad at an accelerated pace. He says job creation is the most important thing the U.S. needs right now, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

He expressed frustration at the gridlock in Congress, advocating swift passage of a jobs bill. (Click here for more on Schmidt's economic outlook.)

Andrew McAfee: MIT Center for Digital Business, Principal Research Scientist

McAfee says we're heading into a jobless recovery, and technology is a culprit.

"Job growth will be harder than it ever was in the past," he says.

The combination of tech-driven productivity and outsourcing are eliminating the need for many American jobs.

McAfee projects that productivity will continue to grow at 3 percent a year, which is good for the top tier of companies.

But higher productivity and technological innovation won't create jobs; McAfee says many unemployed U.S. workers don't have the right education and training to work today's more productive industries.

Questions?  Comments?