Made in the USA: 2014 and Beyond

Made in Mexico Textile Assembly

How many people do you know that have been affected by outsourcing jobs to other countries? The actual number may shock you. Long before “outsourcing” became a buzz word, the US had been doing it since the 1950’s. It started with small things, like electrical parts and manufacturing in the US back then was booming so no one really felt the loss when companies started purchasing small amounts of components made outside the US. No one ever dreamed that one day “Made in the USA” could ever be eradicated. Fast forward to today: manufacturing happens outside the U.S.

When Steve Jobs, founder of CEO of Apple, Inc. was still alive, President Barack Obama asked him what it would take to make iPhones here in the US instead of China. Jobs laughed and said “that would never happen.” To Steve Jobs and countless CEOs just like him, it boiled down to the bottom line. Since manufacturing as an industry has been long dead here, it would take countless hours/weeks/years (read: dollars) to build the plants, forge the materials needed and train workers to produce an iPhone quickly enough to keep up with technological advances. Apple’s profits would be horribly slashed, albeit temporarily, if they were to stop making iPhones in China and start making them here, and corporate greed wins that fight with a TKO.

So a handful of American companies have recently decided to take the risk and have their product made in the USA. In the case of textile assemblies, for example, they are finding of all things a labor shortage! There is not a young workforce being graduated to do cut & sew in the U.S., in fact many American workers that work doing textile assemblies (cutting and sewing), are now retiring.  Labor costs in Mexico is an average of $3-$10 an hour, and in China some places are paying up to $12 per hour (though rarely).  The US would have to pay similar wages to remain competitive, and we would have no shortage of people wanting to be trained for manufacturing jobs, labor intensive jobs like cut & sew operations.

Already statistics show that six million American jobs rely on trade with Mexico, proof that there is a way to fairly import and export without harming our own economy. Our import/export rate with China is significantly under-balanced, however, and has created a gaping deficit in our economy, an unhealthy dependence on Chinese imports. American companies would be wise to focus on partnering with manufacturers in Mexico who can balance the U.S./Mexico economy. This partnership would be profitable for both sides rather than building stand-alone manufacturing bases in the U.S., which in the textile industry would be very difficult to do.