Made in the USA: Still Alive? (financial)

| 3 Comments


I browsed the web for this topic, as I wasn't quite sure where to start. I knew that I wanted to talk about manufacturing and jobs going over seas. But my opinion altered some after reading the following article:
Made in USA Is Alive and Well: Manufacturing Goes High-End and the USA is Still the Global Leader

I wouldn't say it changed it completely, but it did make me more aware which was the point. I was going to come in saying how it's terrible how jobs are all going overseas, blah, blah, blah. But after reading this article, I had an "ah I see" moment. It basically lined up a few simple facts: yes a lot of the production for our lower cost items is going overseas, because let's face it, we can't compete with the wages or the amount of people willing to do the job. BUT what I didn't know is that US manufacturing is still doing well. Extremely well, in fact:
"The U.S. by far remains the world's leading manufacturer by value of goods produced. It hit a record $1.6 trillion in 2007 -- nearly double the $811 billion in 1987. For every $1 of value produced in China's factories, America generates $2.50" (Perry).

So we're still outputting a ton of goods, and making a lot of money off of it. According to the article, we're building things that no one else can build! We've moved high-end. We're making military planes, weapons and parts for space shuttles. It's exciting, right? Then how come people keep complaining that jobs are going overseas? Well, they are. But we're producing so many goods still! We're still making so much money from manufacturing products! That's all true as well.

Our problem is that we're just too productive. You heard me. The reason we can produce so many goods, and make so much money and STILL continue to lead the world in manufacturing as far as numbers go is that our workers are so much more productive. What this means is that companies can get rid of more employees because the ones they have continue to produce more each year. "Once this recession runs its course, surviving manufacturers will emerge more efficient and profitable, economists say. More valuable products will be made using fewer people" (Perry). This does say a lot for our productivity and work ethic, but it means less jobs. That's great that the companies that survive the recession will come out of it more profitable, but if they also come out of it not needing to replace the people they cut during the recession, then it's definitely not improving job prospects for anyone.

The point is, that being aware of these things helps you see the world around you better and have a deeper understanding of what' s going on. I get that the numbers are there for the companies, they are profiting still. And when you hear that guy complaining about all those jobs heading overseas, you can correct him. Sure, some of the jobs are being sent over there but the truth is, we're just too productive. Companies don't need to employ as many people as they did in order to get the job done. Beneficial to the businesses, but it sucks for the job market. Hopefully, however, we will use our productiveness and develop all kinds of innovations that will help spur the job market forward in the stead of all our manufacturing jobs.

3 Comments

Initially, it's easy to complain because it's less effort than actually taking the time to do something about it. It's great that the US is still doing a wonderful job when it comes to manufacturing products (and I want to acknowledge that), but year-after-year more and more jobs continue to be outsourced - simultaneously making the job market worse here in the US while workers overseas often become taken advantage of. I believe this occurs because US citizens are comfortable with being aware and doing the complaining and all, but extremely uncomfortable when the realization hits that in order to this solve growing problem, their lives might have to change in addition. For example, to curb our obsession with outsourcing we must stop supporting many of these companies and/or stop buying many of their products. And sad reality is that most won't take the time to do it...they'll just take the time to open their mouths and complain about it.

Great post. As I was reading it all I kept thinking was about our education. It seems to me that while we're getting more productive, what that really means is that we're becoming smarter workers. Perhaps we need to educate people more in order that they can create and then fill in new holes in our economy. So what would be amazing is if going to school could be more affordable. I know I'm going down a completely different rabbit hole but think about it. In Argentina education is offered on the private or public level, with the public level being free. Here in the US, if that was an option for us, then those workers who are losing their jobs because they are being out-efficient-ized (for lack of a better term) could go back to school to start the next course of their lives. Why don't they? Because it's freakin expensive!

Back in the '60s Marshall McLuhan predicted that Americans would need to switch jobs at the rate we do now and work in fields ever-more removed from manufacturing. He is known for media studies but really he became a sort of futurist.

I hadn't read that the US producing high-end goods but that makes sense. So we make high price items which have fewer buyers and require fewer people to work, rather than robots.

Politicians will say that they are bringing manufacturing back to the US in rallies and speeches but the days of the old system are not going to come back while the US is in even as good a financial shape as we are now. We won't have a huge manufacturing base producing low-end goods until we hit a genuine depression or we are making goods for China and India.

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This page contains a single entry by maus0061 published on December 2, 2010 11:44 PM.

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