Friday, January 30, 2009

92% of Americans Employed

I'm usually a glass-half-empty kind of person. I can't help it, but I'm generally a pessimist.

But, right now I'm a firm believer that one of the only ways we as Americans can help lead ourselves out of our financial crisis is to be optimists. As Aaron Patzer points out in his guest post on TechCrunch today, Americans (who use Mint.com) are spending an average of $400/month less. Of course, layoffs aren't helping. But, the fact remains that 92% of Americans have their jobs still. Many of these people haven't even taken any pay cuts. They are just spending less - maybe out of fear of what's to come, acknowledgment that they should have been saving more in the past, or just from a lack of optimism.

I'm not an economist (far from it) but it seems pretty clear that the country could start turning itself around if the 92% of employed Americans simply started spending again - maybe not all of the $400/month they aren't spending now, but how about half of that. Of course, in the long term Americans need to have better savings habits, but now is not the time to go that route. We need money flowing through our economy and getting average Americans to spend is one of the best ways to do that.

In fact, Finland is on the cutting edge of this scenario. They are running a national ad campaign that encourages people to start spending. Read more about that story at NPR.org.
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