Buying made in America products benefits you in a variety of ways, some directly and some indirectly, either way, people still equate U.S. label with quality.
Long Island, NY - Sept. 18, 2018 - Made in America; a simple stamp at the bottom of a toy or game you purchased for your toddler; a small oval sticker on the back of your TV set; a print in tiny font on the tag of a dress shirt. When you buy a product, how often do you pay attention to where it was actually manufactured? Should you pay attention? The simple answer is yes.
Part of being an educated consumer is becoming informed on where your clothing, household products, electronics, and anything else you purchase comes from. Every product has a story to tell - a past, a journey, and a relationship with each hand it passed through until it reached yours. What story does a made in America product tell?
The made in America story directly relates to the tantalizing American Dream. The American Dream is about pulling yourself up from your bootstraps and, through savvy wisdom and earnest hard work, achieving success. Though the dream may look somewhat different today than it did say - one hundred years ago; the concept still rings true. Each American manufacturing plant was started, once upon a time, by somebody who had a dream. Therefore, an element of that dream lives in every product made in America.
“So what?” you might say. “That’s nice about the American Dream, but how does buying a product made in America benefit me?”
Buying made in America products benefits you in a variety of ways, some directly and some indirectly by benefiting the country as a whole. These benefits include:
Quality control. The US government imposes numerous regulations on every step of the manufacturing process, including where and how source materials are mined, what kind of fuel and machinery is used, and how safe is the design of the product. These regulations protect the consumer and the environment by making sure products operate safely and by preventing the use of harmful chemicals. They also ensure products measure up to a certain standard of quality.
Humane work environment. The safety of workers is priority in the United States. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are required to follow certain guidelines to ensure their employees are not put in danger while working. Dangers can include falling off a ladder, inhaling hazardous chemicals, and becoming injured on faulty machinery. Employers also must pay employees at least minimum wage and even more than that for overtime hours. In contrast, factory workers elsewhere in the world operate in dangerous conditions for long hours and little pay; think China.
Accountability. It is much easier for consumers to hold American companies accountable for products that don’t measure up. Aside from the regulations put in place by the US Government, consumers themselves can contact companies with complaints and suggestions when a product’s quality is not what it should be.
More jobs. Local manufacturing means more jobs for local people. Especially in the years after the Recession, more jobs lead to a much needed boost to our local economy. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a rise in local manufacturing the past few years has led to 800,000 new jobs. And though products made in America may cost more due to government regulations, a study done by the Boston Consulting Group in 2012 showed that 80% of people in the United States actually prefer to pay the higher prices to support their fellow Americans in the workplace.
But don’t just take our word for it. We asked some average consumers if and why made in America is important to them. Here is some of what they said:
“It supports Americans working, and assuming the company believes that strategically manufacturing in the USA makes sense, it's a sustainable job as well.”
“Better quality control and more accountability when said quality control fails or is discovered to be false or misleading.”
“American made has the bonus of quality and supporting local industry.”
“As a designer, I choose to work with American and specifically local factories because I can see what’s going on in person, and can make sure things are above board.”
However, with all this focus on buying American, we should consider the impact on the global economy. For instance, critics fear that focusing on buying American will negatively impact America’s relationship with the global economy, endangering free trade with other countries yet this is not the case.
Labor leaders emphasize that we should encourage reciprocity with offshore markets, turning free trade into fair trade and giving America a more multifaceted participation in trade as a whole. Having the United States manufacturing the goods we purchase does not mean we are shying away from globalization. Rather, we are participating on the manufacturing end so American-made products can compete with goods from other countries.
This is why more and more companies are choosing to manufacture products in America, though you may need to do some research to find them. For instance, an American supplier such as High Bar Shirt Co. based right here in Newark, New Jersey, a hop-skip and jump from Long Island’s shores, takes pride in making their products locally. Visiting their site you can see "PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA" with Made in USA badges all over the site. However, these types of manufacturers can be hard to find and there are many more out there.
Each American manufacturer serves by example of the American Dream coming true, and when you wear one of their products, you carry a piece of that dream with you. The manufacturer’s dream is only successful when Americans purchase their products so buying Made in America means supporting quality, accountability, humane work environments, the local economy, the global economy, and your neighbors who need those jobs.