Historically there has been a lot of hype around this topic, but there is a heightened awareness in recent years, which has drawn more attention to this subject now more than ever. This is mostly due to on-shoring by major manufacturers, the US Government with SelectUSA and STEM programs, and all of the issues we face with counterfeiting and sub-par products.
Almost every day I come across an article or look at a label that says, "Made in USA" or "American made." Products I see with the Made in USA label range anywhere from batteries, hand tools, and hardware, to outdoor furniture and household appliances, to groceries and dog food -- not to mention the Made in USA mandate for many government-driven programs. This is similar to every time I communicate with my wife and kids, because whenever there is a lot of talk there are also a lot misunderstandings, misstatements, and misconceptions.
What exactly is American made?
If we want to get technical, American made can mean many things. Is it South American made? North American made? Is it made in Mexico? What is it?
What exactly is made in USA?
According to a document from the Federal Trade Commission, a product is made in the USA if it is "all or virtually all" made in the USA. What does "all or virtually all" mean? That phrase "means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no -- or negligible -- foreign content." My interpretation is that, most importantly, you be honest. If it is made in the USA with domestic and imported components, say so. If it is manufactured in the USA and packaged in Mexico, say so. If it is designed and assembled in the USA but manufactured in China, say so.
Now on to the heart of the subject, why does it matter? Why should I care? I just want the best price … It matters more than we accept.
Why it matters
1. The manufacturing powerhouse After WWII, the US was almost 50% of the global economy, bringing manufacturing to its peak. During America's manufacturing peak we produced 80% of the world's automobiles. Almost all of the products we used were manufactured in the US. We manufactured steel, textiles, furniture, planes, appliances and shoes, to name a few. Well, since 2001 more than 56,000 factories have left the US. Now, I am not suggesting every single product we use needs to be manufactured here in the US, but we need to be and remain the world's manufacturing powerhouse.
2. Manufacturing employs people -- At its height, US manufacturing employed more than 19 million people. Over the last couple of decades, along with losing our factories, we have lost our jobs. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), manufacturing in the US currently employs just over 12 million people. Although losing more than 7 million jobs is alarming, what is more alarming is that, unlike the service sector, for every manufacturing job there are approximately 1.6 jobs created.
For example, in the recently released film, The American Made Movie, we see the Louisville Slugger, an American made product supporting a great American tradition. In order to create one baseball bat there are: loggers to cut trees, truck drivers to deliver them to the mill, mill workers to create billets, truck drivers to deliver them to the factory to manufacture the bats, marketers to market them and retailers to sell them. Manufacturing employs people.
3. Manufacturing keeps the US competitive -- According to the NAM review of National Science Foundation reports, manufacturers in the US perform two-thirds of all private sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector. Our engineers, techs, and science professionals keep us abreast of technologies, advancements, and developments.
What are your thoughts? Does it matter to you? Does it matter enough to consider change? Keep an eye out for my next article on why it should matter to you.