Products Made in the USA
Enter any large store, pick up a random item from the shelf, and look at the label. It’s highly likely that you will see the same three words on the label: “Made in China”. Depending on the product, you could say “Made in Mexico” or maybe even “Made in Taiwan”, but it will almost certainly not say “Made in the USA.”
It wasn’t always like that. Decades ago, many or even most of the products on store shelves were American-made. But beginning in the late 1990s, American manufacturing saw a steady decline. Over the course of several decades, many U.S. companies moved thousands of their factories, and the jobs they provided, to other countries where the cost of labor is less, such as China and Mexico.
However, there are some signs that this trend is starting to reverse. The Reshoring Initiative, a non-profit group aimed at restoring manufacturing jobs in the United States, reports that more than 300 companies have moved their production to the United States since 2010, creating around 240,000 new jobs. As a result, that “Made in the U.S.” label, while still at times rare, is slowly returning to more products.
Reasons to buy products made in the United States
According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 80% of U.S. buyers report that they prefer to buy products manufactured in the United States. More than 60% say they would even be willing to pay 10% more for a product made in the United States.
Buyers have many different reasons to choose products manufactured in the United States, including:
- Jobs – The most common reason buyers buy American products is to help to save or create jobs in the United States. According to a 2015 report by the Institute of Economic Policy (EPI), the U.S. lost a total of 5.7 million manufacturing jobs between 1998 and 2013, partly due to the Great Recession, but mainly due to trade imbalances with foreign nations such as China and Mexico.
- Lower carbon footprint – Foreign-made products have a higher carbon footprint than U.S.-made products. Products made in China or India have to be shipped across the ocean to reach U.S. stores. Fossil fuels are burned. and greenhouse gases emitted, with every mile they travel.
- Less pollution – One reason it is cheaper to manufacture products in developing countries is that many of them have less stringent regulations to protect air and water quality. Some factories abroad that produce goods for export to the United States also produce significant quantities of hazardous chemicals that contaminate air, water, and soil. A paper by a team of Chinese researchers, which was published in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that the U.S. has effectively outsourced much of its air pollution to China, where more than 33% of sulfur dioxide emissions and about 25% of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide come from the production of export goods.
- Human rights – In addition to weaker environmental regulations, countries that produce goods that Americans buy often have lax laws for protecting workers’ rights. A report from the Institute of Global Labour and Human Rights documents how Chinese workers who produce toys for American brands such as Hasbro, Mattel, and Disney work 12 to 13 hours a day and sleep-in plywood bunk beds in crowded, dirty, and frozen dormitories.
Another recent report found child labor in a factory in Bangladesh producing clothing sold by Walmart and JCPenney. Conditions in foreign factories can often unsafe. This was true in the case of the 2013 collapse of a clothing factory roof in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 employees.
- Health – The lack of environmental and safety regulations at some offshore manufacturing locations can also threaten the health of U.S. consumers. Over the last two decades, dozens of types of toys manufactured in China were withdrawn from the market because they were unsafe. Some posed a choking hazard, while others contained dangerous chemicals such as lead paint and kerosene, according to The New York Times.
- A stronger economy – Buying products that are Made in the USA not only supports the workers who make them but also benefits the wider economy. When U.S. factories thrive, they hire U.S. construction companies to expand their buildings, U.S. accounting firms to manage their money, and U.S. energy suppliers to provide them with power. It is estimated that every manufacturing job in the United States supports 1.4 additional jobs in other parts of the economy.
Unfortunately, figuring out which products are Made in the USA is not always a simple matter of verifying the label. In theory, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that all products labeled “Made in USA” have all or almost all of their content manufactured in this country, including parts, processing, and labor. However, the FTC does not have the resources to verify each product being sold. Therefore, it is not unusual to see boldly labeled products like “Made in the USA” that are actually from China, according to a business consultant interviewed by Consumer Reports.
In addition, although the FTC regulates the use of the words “Made in the U.S.”, products labeled as “Assembled in the U.S.” Or “Designed in the U.S,” They are not necessarily made of parts manufactured in the United States. Nor does the FTC impose limits on the use of patriotic symbols, such as the American flag. A product can have a large Stars and Stripes logo dotted throughout the package and only a small notice at the bottom that says it is made entirely of imported parts.
In addition to the confusion is the fact that most legitimately manufactured products in the United States are not required to say so. The only exceptions are automobiles, textiles, and other wool goods. According to Consumer Reports, many companies that manufacture some products in the U.S., like Kenmore, do not mention this fact on the label because they also have contracts with factories abroad.
The best way to identify products manufactured in the United States from their labels is to look for the “Country of Origin” label. U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires that all imported products be clearly marked to indicate where they come from. The markup must be conspicuous and readable, so you should be able to easily find it in the package. If you don’t see a country of origin that appears somewhere on the product, that’s a clear sign that it’s made in the United States.
Find products made in the Made in the USA
Even if all Target and Walmart products seem to be made in China, it’s actually possible to buy just about anything from a new sweater to a washing machine, from an American manufacturer. This is true if you know where to look. Numerous websites, such as Made in USA, Americans Working, and USA Love List, exist for the sole purpose of helping U.S. consumers. To spend their dollars on purchases in a way that supports American workers.