US Manufacturing Statistics
The US is the second-largest manufacturer in the world with over $2.5 trillion in exports in 2019 alone1. As of February 2020, there were nearly 13 million people working in manufacturing in the US.2 As such a large part of both our gross domestic product (GDP) and workforce, manufacturing is a vital sector of the economy in the United States. The manufacturing industry has a direct effect on the lives of every American.
As a share of total employment, manufacturing employment in the United States has been in a steady decline since the 1960’s – from around 28% in the ’60s to less than 9% in 2018. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, around 6 million manufacturing jobs disappeared.3
Due to strict labor and safety laws in the United States, products are generally manufactured at a high level of quality. Most Americans are aware of this high level of quality and in fact, are willing to pay more for products that are made in the USA. According to Consumer Reports, nearly 8 in 10 American consumers said that they prefer American products over imports. 6 in 10 said that they would be willing to pay 10 percent more for them.4 In addition to regulations, US manufacturers often make a large portion of their sales to US consumers. Therefore, they have a reason to produce a great product – repeat business. US businesses often rely heavily on branding and marketing, so they don’t want to have customers form a negative opinion and abandon their brand for a better quality product. This type of thinking simply doesn’t apply to cheap imports.
While there are imported products with a high level of quality, many are simply inferior products. There are many reasons for this. When a country focuses on exporting products to other countries, they are less concerned with quality and more focused on profit. Many countries with a focus on exports also have fewer safety regulations, so potentially dangerous materials and chemicals that aren’t allowed in the US may be used.
Most exporters are not concerned with getting repeat business from consumers, so they generally aren’t worried about the consumer’s experience. After all, they usually aren’t selling to the consumer, they are selling to a middle man with the same goal – profit. Think about how many cheap imported products you have bought over the years only to be frustrated with how cheap they were. Many times these cheap imports don’t even function as intended. Can you name a cheap import brand? Probably not. Many imports aren’t labeled with a brand because they don’t want you to form an opinion on their products. Other times one product will be sold under many brand names. If you don’t know the brand name you won’t avoid it. So you can buy a product that you don’t like and end up buying again from the same company without knowing it.
Pricing for products made in the United States is often higher than competing imports. This is due to several factors. Because of the previously mentioned regulations, companies in the US can’t cut corners as easily. US companies also have to pay their workers a higher wage than in many other countries and often have to provide benefits which companies in many competing countries don’t have to.
The old saying “you get what you pay for” is true. When you buy cheap imports based on their lower price rather than buying a quality version made in the US, you will almost always end up with an inferior product which is not worth the savings. Unfortunately, many American consumers have started looking for products based on price. This is especially true with the rise of e-commerce. Unfortunately, this often results in consumers choosing cheaper imports over higher quality domestic products.
Safety and Environment
As mentioned earlier, due to a lack of regulations in some countries products are sometimes unsafe. They may be made in an inferior manner which leads to safety issues (e.g. batteries which catch fire) or made with unsafe materials (e.g. toxic chemicals, BPA, etc.). These products can not only harm the consumer, but also the environment. The use or disposal of toxic products often leads to environmental contamination. The manufacturing of these products also harms the environment. Although they are manufactured in other countries, environmental contamination often travels into waterways which eventually pollute waters across the world. It also travels by air and makes its way around the globe.
Businesses and Workers
By purchasing products that are made in the USA, you support American companies and workers. This helps the economy and gives a fighting chance to products made in the US. If US goods thrive, the economy and jobs benefit. Every dollar spent on American goods is a dollar invested in the future of our country. This affects every American in a positive way, regardless of political views.
When you support companies that make products in America, you are supporting the people whose hands made the products. You ensure that their job is there tomorrow, you boost support for our country, and you can feel good that your purchase is helping Americans. You can also count on a better, safer product. Support our country, and start a new movement of pride in America by purchasing American made products.
To find out how to make sure the product you are buying is American made, read our post on the subject – “How To Make Sure A Product Is Really Made In America“.
1. “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services.” United States Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/exh1.pdf.
2. “Industries at a Glance.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag31-33.htm#workforce.
3. “FRED Graph” – Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?graph_id=347814&rn=3405
4. “Made in America” Consumer Reports, https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/05/made-in-america/index.htm.