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What Does “Made In America” Really Mean?



Made In America

As of 2016, the United States imported $120 billion worth of textiles and apparel, mostly straight from China. Compared to the measly $21 billion worth of textiles and apparel exports, it can seem that Americans are still very much reliant on foreign manufacturing. While the US may import six times what they import, American advanced manufacturing is one of the most important pieces to the economy. Synonymous with high quality, attention to detail, fair wages and working conditions, and environmental responsibility, “Made in the USA” is a big part of not only the economy at large, but is part of our national identity.

US manufacturing drives more innovation than any other sector. Responsible for creating millions of jobs every year, many of which are open and available to capable workers without college degrees, manufacturing stimulates local and global economies alike.

  • Manufacturing performs more than 3/4 of all private-sector research and development
  • Manufacturing created 12.5 million jobs and makes up almost 10% of the US workforce
  • The average hourly wage for manufacturing workers is $26

Taken at face value, manufacturing the United States would be the world’s 9th largest economy. Domestic manufacturing strengthens the US economy as well as providing a competitive edge in world trade affairs. Among Americans, 80% of consumers prefer products with the “Made in America” label and 60% are willing to pay 10% more for well-produced within American soil.

  • In 2016 alone manufacturers contributed $2.25 trillion into the US economy
  • For every one dollar spent in manufacturing, nearly two dollars are added back into the economy
  • According to 2016 product recalls under the Consumer Product Safety Commission, China saw 179 recalls compared to the just 73 recalls on American made products

Among American manufacturing practices, its attention to environmental responsibility stands out. The United States has pollution control standards that some other countries may not have. Shipping emissions are one of the highest contributors of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, and as US manufacturing grows, the needs for shipping and the subsequent negative environmental impacts are greatly lowered. In addition, domestic manufacturing takes one-half or even one-third of the time of importing foreign manufactured goods.

  • In the years between 1992 and 2009, toxic air emissions from manufacturing in the US dropped by 50%
  • global shipping emits 1000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, accounting for 2.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions

Made in America products may vary in quality and variety, but to legally carry the label there are strict criteria that must be met. These standards, set by the Federal Trade Commission, simply state that all significant parts and processing of products must be of US origin, as well as final assembly. For American made products that don’t quite fit the regulations, qualified claims may be used such as:

  • “Made in US from imported parts”
  • “Assembled in USA”
  • “Hand-carved in US, Wood from the Philippines”

In the last 25 years the volume of US manufactured goods have quadrupled and between 2000 and 2014 world trade in manufactured goods more than doubled from $4.8 trillion to $12.2 trillion. What does “Made in America” mean to you? Take a look at this infographic for more from Standard Textile on the state of American advanced manufacturing, how it stimulates our economy, and what it means for the future of global trade standards.

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency , based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.