Congratulations! You have survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and most of Cyber Monday. This year I even heard one news station, refer to Thanksgiving afternoon and evening as Gray Thursday. All of this day naming stems from our desire to see economic recovery. We can expect that in the next few days people will be looking at the sales numbers, and thereby deciding whether our economy has gotten healthier.
While I agree the sales figures reflect the confidence of consumers, I don’t believe this is the best way to analyze our economy. Spending is not necessarily good economically speaking. The economy grows when some product is designed, manufactured, and marketed at a profit. If only one of the steps is done in the United States, then purchasing it on Black Friday is not a boost to the economy.
On Friday, I went shopping. At the checkout line, the cashier mentioned the crowd was smaller than she expected, at both her jobs. She has two different jobs, at two different department stores. Both are part time. Neither provide her with benefits. Both jobs pay barely above minimum-wage. She is a child of our economic age; selling goods produced in other countries, getting her benefits from the government, and having no prospects for a career.
We don’t produce goods in this country because it’s too expensive. Manufacturers have laws requiring they provide livable wages and benefits. Consumers will buy goods manufactured in other countries not thus constrained. So the economy should not just be measured by spending but rather by spending balanced with production. I don’t think I’m smart enough to know how to bring manufacturing back to our country. But I don’t think I’m gullible enough to believe we can heal our economy without it.