Whew, it is nice to be out of 2013, because any “13” year can’t be good. I never said anything about 2013 for the entire year until after New Years, because I was afraid I would jinx the year. While, at the same time, I didn’t want to make everybody else share paranoid about the “13” year. So we will take a quick look back at that year.
Overall, 2013 wasn’t so bad for myself, nor was it too bad for America or the “Made in America” movement. The United States added about 2,340,000 (2.34 million) new jobs for the year. (Stats from the Bureau of Labor, Estimated December 2013 stats not officially in, based on average of 195,000 new jobs per month). Unemployment decreased from 7.9% in January ’13 to 7.0% on December, 2013. And for the first time in years, the United States has reached 12 million workers in the manufacturing sector, adding 63,000 new manufacturing jobs in 2013, statistics from Alliance for American Manufacturing. This all happened despite government interference with its sequester and its government shutdown.
There was one large news story related to the “Made in America” movement in 2013 which showed the horrors brought about outsourcing. This was the collapse of the Rana factory building in Dhakar, Bangaldesh that killed over a 1,127 garment workers. This dove-tailed on the factory fire in Bangladesh that had killed 112 garment workers the previous November 29th. Afterwards, we heard that Wal-Mart (as well as the GAP, Target, JC Penney) would help out inspecting and repairing the factory’s shoddy conditions, then re-nigged, and then changed the subject and announced it would add more American products to its stores. The U.S. even suspended partial trading privileges with Bangladesh. There was much talk about Bangladesh and outsourcing which all seemed to all but disappear by August. Walmart is right, the American public has a very short attention span.
The Made in America movement has gained more momentum, with more bloggers and more Facebook contacts writing about Made in America products. There are more stores that have been carrying more U.S. products, sometimes even having special sections for Made in USA stuff, due to public pressure. It is great that there is a brick and mortar store called the Made in USA store in Elma, New York. There is also a new brick and mortar store selling only made in USA in Barrington, Illinois called Norton’s USA. There is a clothing store in Staunton, Virginia that sells only clothes made in the USA called Made: By the People, For the People. This would not be the first only American clothing store – American Apparel is a large chain that has been doing this for years, but they sell only the American Apparel label. In addition, there have been local made in USA businesses like simplynystore.com or sfmade.org type websites. And don’t forget some of the art and craft fairs that demonstrate only locally made products are popping up, like in New York City and San Francisco.
There has been more legislation trying to end or decreasing outsourcing or increasing American manufacturing, but most of this is blocked by Big Business. There was also an official manufacturing summit in Washington DC in trying to bring business back to the United States (SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit). This was the first legitimate sign that the government wants to bring jobs back to the USA.
Other indicators: Crowd-sourcing (Indigo, Kickstarter) are always creating some “Made in USA” projects. Many have been funded and succeeded. Probably the best success story is Flint and Tinder. The Media: there are more news stories about “made in the USA” . Plus, there are movies coming out about the movement (Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey and American Made Movie)and movies that show the bad side of outsourcing (Death by China).
Another positive: there have been companies that have been taking their factories out of Asia or Mexico and bringing them back to the United States (insourcing). And there is evidence that more companies will be following this trend due to the margin of profit decreasing in China as the Chinese workers continue to demand better wages (from the Boston Consulting Group). However, there are still companies that continue to outsource and still get a tax deduction for doing so. Until the government stops enabling this type of behavior, companies won’t think twice about outsourcing.
2013 was a good year for the Made in America movement, however, there are still major obstacles. The U.S. Government will not change its policies until enough people publicly voice their opinion that the US wants to buy better quality US products, and that the United States should keep its jobs right here in this country. 2014 looks like an even better year for the Made in America movement. I do hope that the United States government does pass some laws that will give American products the favored position it deserves.