With Steve Jobs gone, is American innovation past its peak?

Pardon the ponderous headline, but the question is worth asking. From Greg Ip in the Economist:

Americans' entrepreneurial self-esteem is now embodied by Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon. These are indeed fabulously innovative companies with world-beating business models. Yet one wonders if they are increasingly the exception, not the rule, and if the passing of Mr Jobs is simply the most prominent example of a broader decline in American entrepreneurship. According to JPMorgan, in the late 1990s, employment at start-up companies regularly grew 1.2m per quarter. That has fallen to 700,000 since the current recovery began. John Haltiwanger, probably the leading economist on employment dynamics by firm size, finds similar trends. Entrepreneurship and innovation, of course, are not the same thing. Yet even if American innovation is fundamentally sound, there remains the more unsettling problem of how narrowly its fruits are shared. If you want to know why the Senate is on the verge of passing a bill punishing China for its trade practices, look no further than this fact: Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon collectively employ just 113,000 people, a third of GM's payroll in 1980.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent Economy stories:
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Exit interview with Port of L.A.'s executive director
L.A. developers relying on foreign investors bend a few rules
Holiday shopping: On your marks, get set... spend!

New at LA Observed
On the Media Page
Go to Media

On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook