Jobs and Business in a Steady State Economy

In a steady state economy, jobs are more secure, and local businesses contribute significantly to thriving communities. A main feature of a steady state economy is stabilized population. With a stable population, there is not a constant need to create more jobs, because the size of the working-age population is not increasing. Another main feature of a steady state economy is efficient and sustainable use of materials and energy. Limiting wasteful use of resources means that the economy will not seek to replace labor with automated processes unless it is sustainable to do so, resulting in greater availability of jobs. People will be able to select from a variety of jobs, and they will not disappear because of too much competition or detrimental offshoring practices.

An end of growth at the national scale means greater economic control at the local scale. Re-localization provides communities with opportunities to reclaim some of the production and distribution processes that have been managed elsewhere in the global economy (oftentimes overseas). Citizens become involved in local investing, local entrepreneurship, and local businesses, leading to an economy that’s more neighborly, more resilient, and more secure. With a backbone of sustainable local businesses, this economy will be less susceptible to outside disturbances, such as falling stock prices, dwindling oil supplies, or ageing power grids. By developing and supporting local cooperative business ventures, citizens keep wealth circulating in their communities, which are marked by an enhanced sense of place and vitality. All of this means a solid supply of local jobs, and most of all, an enhanced sense of connectivity that comes from participating in the local economic scene.


More of this…

Cooperative enterprises providing jobs,
goods and services for local communities.

Image credit: Colin Purrington

Jobs and Business in an Economy Seeking Perpetual Growth

Conventional economists and politicians often point to creation of jobs and stimulation of business as the rationale for growing the economy. They do this even though economic growth has resulted in the offshoring of businesses and failure to eliminate unemployment. In an economy obsessed with growth, corporations are on a continuous quest for higher and higher profits. This quest leads to decisions in which corporate executives locate their facilities (along with the jobs) wherever it’s cheapest to do so (oftentimes where wages are low and environmental standards are weak or nonexistent). The grow-at-all-costs mentality pushes businesses to make all sorts of wacky decisions that may be good for lining corporate pockets, but bad for society. In addition, unrestrained population growth leads to a situation in which there are too many people competing for jobs, meaning there are fewer jobs available and wages get pushed downward.


Less of that…

Over-the-top corporate influence on economic
and lifestyle decisions that should be made by
citizens at the local scale.

Image credit: Adbusters

Exemplary Jobs and Business

Co-operatives, or co-ops for short, are business enterprises that are owned and operated democratically by a group of people working together to meet common economic, social, and cultural needs. According to the International Co-operative Alliance, co-ops around the world employ more than 100 million women and men. Co-ops can be huge, with revenues in the billions of dollars, but many are local enterprises owned by local workers, who have a genuine stake in their communities and local economies. Co-ops focus on more than just profit.  They are able to provide jobs and economically valuable goods and services while considering the well-being of employees, their contributions to community vitality, and the long-term benefits associated with their operations.