Who has the power to create jobs? It isn’t the president or congress. It is the American consumer, you and me.



President Barack Obama is on the stump making speeches around the country, and last week he was on national TV. The subject is jobs.

  The national unemployment statistics tell us that 7.4 percent of our work force is still unemployed. That is down from 12 percent two years ago, but it means that 11 million people are still out of work. Unfortunately, many of the jobs they had have disappeared into other countries where low-cost labor is readily available and products are produced at significantly less expense than in the United States.   Half of the automobiles sold in the U.S. today are made in other countries. Toyota of Japan has been the number one auto seller in the world for the past several years. They hit a glitch with the nuclear accident that shutdown production for several months but statistics tell us they are rapidly catching up. Where are American owned General Motors and Ford? GM and Ford have been in second and third place in the U.S. auto market and are almost non-factors in the world marketplace.   How could this happen to us? How, indeed. Take a walk around your neighborhood and count the number of American-made cars in the driveways. A recent shopping trip to a clothing store yielded tags from Peru, Indonesia, China, Korea and several more. Shop your favorite stores from Wallmart to Belk, from Lowe’s to Home Depot and see what you can find that says “Made in America”. I don’t think you will have any better luck than I did finding home grown products.   Most of the country suffered major job losses between the 1960s and the 1990s. The South lost its textile manufacturing base. The northeast and north mid-west where steel was king became the rust belt. The secret to jobs is manufacturing. Each manufacturing job generates five support jobs. Thus, one manufacturing job lost means six jobs gone.   If we buy American products, however, the money stays in America and we create jobs for Americans. Yes, I know it’s more complicated than that. Some foreign made cars have American made components and some foreign owned firms manufacture in the U.S. Still, where does the money for management go and who banks the profit?   Who has the power to create jobs? It isn’t the president or Congress. It is the American consumer, you and me. The issue is consumer choice. The more we buy “Made in America” products the more jobs will be available for our friends and neighbors. Will it cost a bit more? Probably. But, if we are lucky enough to have a job, we shouldn’t notice it so much. Check the labels on what you buy. The job you save may be your own.  

Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for GateHouse News Service and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges in universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.