Slowly but surely, the U.S. economy is climbing its way out of the dumps. This is not just a sideline observation. Americans are starting to see it, too. New research from Bloomberg showed that the percentage of Americans confident in where the economy is headed is at its highest since 2004. More jobs are being created and, as a result, the dreaded nationwide unemployment rate continues to drop. From December 2011 to February 2012, U.S. employers added 734,000 jobs, the most activity recorded in nearly six years.

From small to large, companies are making a difference, and with the aid of the job seeking population they can continue to help get the economy back on track.

Fuel the Local Job Scene (Employers)

Employers and consumers shouldn’t depend too much on Washington for economic change; the bulk of their efforts should be focused on the local community. Employment is a key factor in the condition of the economy on both a local and national level. For instance, when the job scene is flourishing, things are generally in good shape across the board. When unemployment is high, things are stagnant. Companies are in a position to provide a boost for their local economy, and one of the most effective ways to do it is to fuel the job scene by adding more employees to their staff.

Spend Money in the Community (Employees)

If it’s one thing we have really noticed during this economic slump, it is that consumers tend to spend a lot less when times are tough. Sure, the splurging on sports, entertainment and other luxuries never seems to stop, but several people have committed to buckling down and limiting their spending to the essentials of food, shelter and bills. Even consumers on the tightest of budgets can help stimulate the economy by making sure they spend the bulk of their money in the community. Keeping your purchases local supports the small businesses in your area who can in turn pour their resources back into the neighborhoods.

Reward with Fair Pay (Employers)

Being able to earn a steady paycheck is all many consumers can ask for in this rough economic climate. However, it doesn’t take a degree in econometrics to know that employees can do more when they are being paid more. They can make sure they have reliable transportation to and from work, start paying down existing debt and improve their overall health. This could set off a chain reaction that results in more local financial institutions picking up their recruitment efforts and even being more generous with financing. Next, consumers are spending more of their money in the community, making larger purchases, and strengthening the framework of the local economy.

Employers and employees can play a major role in getting the economy on a faster road to recovery, and it all starts with companies stepping up and being leaders in their communities. Still, employers should not increase their staff and reward employees solely for the sake of stimulating the economy. Making moves out of desire could backfire in a big way, leaving companies overstaffed, strained of resources and still failing to meet production goals.

Whether it’s hiring more employees, beefing up incentive plans or sponsoring local causes, companies should allow their stimulus strategies to be driven by essentials that factor into their business. Company growth and customer demand are two good examples of reasons to push forward. In the right situation, the initiative of local business leaders creates opportunities all can enjoy.