Well, shucks.  The UW Huskies don’t seem like they’re going to pull off a 28-point comeback here in the fourth quarter, so I figure it’s time to fire up the blog and do something more productive!

As the latest installment of what I plan to become a regular feature of my blog, let’s review/analyze the results of the latest career-related poll I posted on LinkedIn — and then at the bottom of the article, I’ll announce my newest poll, if any of you care to cast your vote.  But again, let’s first recap the poll question I posted in late August:

“What do you think the most effective step would be to reduce the unemployment rate in this country?”

The five response choices were:

1) Employer tax incentives for hiring folks
2) More funding for the small business sector
3) Retraining options for displaced workers
4) Clamp down on outsourcing/immigration
5) Eliminate unemployment insurance

To date, 43 people have weighed in on this particular question, and while it’s tough to see what’s going in in the small graphic below, you can click here to cast your own vote or access the full set of results.

The Analysis? Obviously, there’s a good chance that all five of the measures listed would have some level of positive impact on the unemployment numbers — but given that our elected representatives seem to fight about these different options constantly, themselves, I’m not surprised to see my own poll audience was pretty split, as well.

My own opinion?  Personally, I’m not as much of a fan of Option #1 (tax-based hiring incentives) as the majority of other people seem to be.  While perhaps this approach could stimulate hiring to a certain degree, and convince some businesses to add folks to their payroll in the near-term, I’m not as big a fan of “quick fix” or “band-aid” solutions compared to measures that might actually help us pull out of this economic downturn on a more permanent basis.  To me, I don’t see how a short-term tax incentive for hiring would be all that different from the famous “cash for clunkers” program we all remember from last year.  While auto sales did in fact boom for a month or two while the CFC program was in place, this “growth” was largely artificial and the numbers soon crashed back down to earth, since (according to family members of mine in the business) it basically just increased short-term sales by cannibalizing future demand.  No “new” demand was created and the effect therefore wasn’t all that sustainable.

To me, therefore, I’d rather see Options #2 and #3 receive far more focus from the government.  For starters, my belief is that our society should place more emphasis on helping entrepreneurs and innovators invent new goods/services/technologies/markets, since I think we’d all prosper as a result — and that the growth of these emerging businesses would lead to greatly increased levels of organic,  sustainable hiring.   Additionally, I’d love to see even more funding put into the “retraining” option so that those out-of-work professionals who DO want to make a career change, and acquire the new skills companies are desperately looking for, even in this recession, can make this transition as quickly and affordably as possible.  To back up my case, I’d cite the fact that the www.indeed.com website alone currently lists over 100,000 open positions in Washington State right now — a figure that seems pretty silly and/or sad, when you think about the large number of folks around these parts who are desperately seeking work and a way to make their living.

As for Options #4 and #5 from the poll?  Not too many people voted for those, but I couldn’t resist seeing if there was still a sizable number of people out there willing to rally around the “anti-outsourcing” banner — or who are embracing the hard-line stance that if we simply cut off all unemployment benefits, it will force people to be less picky and start taking some of the jobs that ARE available, despite the fact that these opportunities may be lower-paying or “beneath” one’s historical employment level.  Agree or disagree, this latter measure WOULD definitely decrease the unemployment rate, for sure, but perhaps not in a way most people would find socially desirable.

If any of you have any further commentary on this question, I’d love to hear it, so please feel free to post a “comment” to this article if the mood strikes you.  And for those who might want to chime in on my next question, I’ve just slapped up a brand-new LinkedIn poll (click here to cast your vote) that asks the question: “What is the most profound difference between the job market today and the way things were 20 years ago?”