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How to cure the economy: shop

Updated: November 10, 2011 11:33AM



The Obama jobs bill will probably never be enacted. Our economy is likely to remain mired in a punishing recession far longer than we hope. The numbers are brutal. Illinois posted a 9.9 percent unemployment rate for August, higher than the national rate.

President Barack Obama has hit the campaign hustings. He’s demanding that Congress deliver his jobs plan now. For those of us lucky enough to be employed, there is something we can do, right now.

Here’s my jobs bill: Go shopping. In 2011, Americans will purchase about 12.7 million cars and light trucks, according to a recent survey by Bloomberg News.

Think car, and think American: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Obama did his part by saving the nation’s pivotal auto industry. Now we can get out and buy one. No excuses. The quality of American cars has ratcheted up, and prices are finally competitive. Every time you buy an American car, an angel gets his wings. (Well, not really, but an American worker benefits.) Ford Tauruses and Explorers are assembled right here in the neighborhood, at a Ford Motor Co. plant at 126th and Torrence, on Chicago’s Far South Side.

Boosting jobs begets more jobs, says Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“For every one manufacturing job you create, you create anywhere from six to nine additional jobs,” Bruno told WLS-Channel 7 in a recent interview. “You’re going to need truckers. You’re going to need other service companies to provide the material to go into the primary industry and you’re going to need the local hot-dog stand.”

When it comes to cutting the mustard, Chicago has done more for the hot-dog industry than any other city in the nation.

Black folks are being hit harder than anyone in this monster recession. Nationally, the jobless rate among African Americans stands at 16.7 percent. However, there’s a silver lining in Chicago’s persistent segregation — black-owned firms tend to hire black employees. That’s a winning argument for legacy black companies like Parker House Sausage, a Chicago food company in business for 90 years. Buying its products creates and sustains jobs. (Just take those pork patties hot links in moderation, the Fat Nag reminds.)

Channel 7 also notes Luster Products, another legacy firm that manufactures hair care supplies. That should be a no-brainer for black women, who spend millions annually tending to their bobs, weaves and locks.

Now’s the time to pick up a subscription to the Chicago Defender. The weekly version of the 106-year-old newspaper is a shadow of its former historic self, but its parent company employs workers in Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Memphis.

Halloween is six weeks away, but the store aisles are already stacked high with treats. Here’s a good trick: Buy locally made candy for the little devils. Tootsie Rolls, Lemon Heads, Milky Ways and Vosges truffles (for the junior gourmands who come to the door).

Get clean in an Oxxford suit, produced by the famed haberdasher out on city’s Near West Side. You’ll look good at the job interview.

“Obama should suit up there,” says my friend Chris Drayer, a sales rep there. (Bush 1 and 2 shopped there, but I won’t hold that against Oxxford).

Let’s stop waiting for the knuckle­heads in Washington to rescue the economy. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, that’s not going to happen. Buy Chicago and bring back our jobs.



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