Stimulus Starts at Home
May 26, 2009 - 12:21pm

In the face of billion-dollar bank bailouts and the most global economy North America has ever experienced, it’s easy to be mesmerized by most mega-macroeconomic figures. You can hardly ignore the perfect storm of statistics that swirl around the current recession, and they certainly can provide a context for what’s happening closer to home, but the real action is in our own backyards and the specific spending habits cultivated there.

April 2009 survey data from the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project looks at what lifestyle changes individuals are making to weather the recession. The report is worth checking out at if only for the fascinating comparison of what items consumers consider “luxuries” versus “necessities” nowadays (microwaves down, high-speed internet up). Lighting isn’t on the list, but let’s just assume that electricity and another absentee, indoor plumbing, would trump the perennially top-ranked automobile.

More than 80 percent of people in the Pew survey say they they have made at least one cost-cutting measure in response to the recession, while almost 30 percent have made four or more changes, ranging from buying less expensive brands and shopping in discount stores to doing yard work or repairs that they used to pay others to do.

No doubt you’ve likely made some changes in the way your run your business that mirror those in the Pew study: being highly selective in your inventory or wearing more hats to offset reductions in staff. You have to respond to or, ideally, anticipate the conditions in your own market without shrinking into a model so lean that you are no longer able to deliver on your trademark promises.

The decisions that each of us make in both personal and professional capacities have their own cumulative impact on our community—and the bigger picture. Where and whether we choose to shop and how much we buy can send dollars into pockets positioned to pay it back to us with purchases, or not. So think about what you are doing to stimulate the economy yourself on a local level. One micro step for man, one giant leap against gloom and doom.

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