Reinvest in local manufacturing to continue economic revival

Surmountable Social Issues
Dec 17, 2022
6 min read
Local manufacturing multiplies jobs beyond just factories / iStock

Issue 48 • Week of December 11, 2022 / Updated July 26, 2023

Have you seen that US factory jobs are booming for the first time in decades?

This holiday season, take a look where the items on your own wish list come from – as well as their potential value. Every dollar spent on American products returns about $3 in economic benefits.

Assessing the true country of origin is rarely so straightforward, however, since finished products require both raw materials and assembly. Each can be sourced halfway around the world from a company's design headquarters and can change depending on where or even when you make a purchase. The more complicated the end product, the more complex the manufacturing process.

For instance, Honda produces four of the top 10 "most American" vehicles in Alabama while General Motors does not make a single car, truck, or SUV on the same list for 2022. Meanwhile, the Ford Mustang was the second "most American" car built in 2021 but fell to 21st in 2022 in part due to the semiconductor shortage that paused production three times in Michigan.

American companies have closed local factories for decades citing decreased demand without owning up to the fact when certain products were just unable to compete. The Big Three automakers currently sell a grand total of only six sedan nameplates in the US (Ford: 0, Dodge and Chrysler: 3, GM: 3), representing just a fraction of the market. By focusing almost entirely on trucks and SUVs, they cede business that is still profitable enough for competitors to pursue.

Of course, cars are far from the only things made in America but they are among the most consequential. Ten jobs are created or maintained in our economy for every new domestic automotive assembly line worker.

How did local manufacturing end up the exception rather than the rule and how can we continue this economic revival?

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