The What Works Project – What do you love that is Made in America?

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The folks over at GOOD/Corps were in touch with us last night regarding this awesome opportunity for our followers.  First of all, we are excited that we are on their radar! Wooohooo- The Movement is spreading!  So keep doing what you are all doing… sharing our page and raising awareness.

What Works Project Overview
General Electric (GE) and GOOD/Corps would like to honor your efforts by inviting you and your community to submit photos of people, things and innovations you love that’s made in America to Celebrate What Works!

By participating in the What Works Project, you’ll have a chance to win $500! Your participation will be turned into donations for non-profit partners across the country that support job creation and training. There are several ways to participate and donate to the Non-Profit of the Week:

  • Submit a photo of what works in your world – the innovations, innovators, technologies, cutting-edge practices, machines, scientific discoveries, organizations and other features of life that work to advance America. For each submission, GE will donate $1 to our Non-Profit of the Week supporting American jobs.
  • Support all your favorite photos by pushing the heart in the upper-left corner. Every time you “Heart” a photo submission, GE will donate $1 to the Non-Profit of the Week.
  • Win. Each week five submissions that capture the spirit of the What Works Project weekly prompt will be selected by a Guest Judge, GE and GOOD/Corps to receive a $500 prize.

The deadline to submit is Sunday, April 8, at 8:59pm Pacific Standard Time.

2 Connecticut Shoreline Firms Collaborate on 'Buy American Act'

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Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro visited Engineering Specialties, Inc. in North Branford to see the manufacture of evacuated tube solar thermal collectors for Apricus, also a North Branford company. Left to right: Apricus Vice President Nigel Ruddell, Apricus engineer Eric Skiba, Rosa, ESI’s Vice President Carmen Ciardiello, ESI’s President Ronald Delfini, and Apricus marketing person Shannon Horsley.

Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register 


New Haven Register
By: Bridget Albert, Register Staff
[email protected] / Twitter: @nhrbalbert

NORTH BRANFORD — Two local companies have teamed up to meet and exceed the requirements of the Buy American Act and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Apricus is a designer and manufacturer of solar hot water and hydronic heating products. Founded in 2003, Apricus is a global company with offices in the U.S., Australia and France and sales in more than 30 countries. Its North American headquarters is in Branford.

Engineering Specialties Inc. is a manufacturer of engineered metal stamping, mechanical assemblies, wire forms, springs, and other custom component parts. It is located in North Branford. It started in 1990 and now has 20 employees.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, visited the factories Tuesday to learn more about their efforts to work together and meet the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Buy American Act.

Nigel Ruddell, vice president of Apricus, said when his company decided it wanted to form a partnership with an American company to produce the AP-30C Buy American Solar Collector, they contacted larger companies that either didn’t respond to their request or told them their design couldn’t be made.

The collector absorbs thermal energy from the sun and converts it into heat that can then be used for hot water, heating, cooling and industrial processes. Apricus also manufactures these units in China, which services Europe, Asia and Australia.

“This is how it should work,” DeLauro said, adding she hopes there are more such business ventures.

“We wanted someone local so we could grow the product together,” Ruddell said.

“We are a good fit and hope to bring more new products in the future,” he added.

“We jumped at the opportunity,” said Ronald Delfini, president of Engineering Specialties Inc.

“They had their blueprint but some things needed to change; being close was perfect,” said Carmen Ciardillo, vice president Engineering Specialties Inc.

To qualify under the “Buy American” act, at least 50 percent of the product must be made in the U.S.

Ruddell and Delfini said 61 percent of the AP-30C is made in North Branford, including all the stainless steel parts.

DeLauro said she could see the “ripple effect” of this type of collaboration, including the need for installation and maintenance of the systems.

Additionally, DeLauro said she could see the benefits to federal buildings that were getting updated with new heating and air conditioning systems.

Ruddell said Apricus has already been awarded several government contracts.

Delfini said since January, they have shipped 250 units, averaging production of 15 a day. A complete installed system will cost the average homeowner $8,000 to $12,000 and it will save 50 to 80 percent on heating costs.

Solar collector owners can qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit and $2,000 tax credit in Connecticut, Ruddell said.

Delfini said the product has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.

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Call Bridget Albert at 203-789-5702. Follow her on Twitter @nhrbalbert.

The Promise of Today’s Factory Jobs

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Andy Manis/Bloomberg News: Maurcie Johnson, left, and Diandre Jackson stacked locks at the Master Lock plant in Milwaukee in January.
By EDUARDO PORTER of the New York Times on April 3, 2012
E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @portereduardo
To hear Mike Bink, one might believe American manufacturing is about to recapture its lost glory.Master Lock, which has made locks in Milwaukee since 1921, has brought 100 jobs back from China over the last year and a half. And Mr. Bink, who has worked at the plant for 33 years and heads the United Auto Workers local, is sure more will follow. “They are making a lot of capital investment; buying a lot of new equipment,” he said. “That will create more jobs.”Master Lock’s story dovetails nicely with the budding upturn in manufacturing employment, which has rekindled hope across a Rust Belt pummeled by 30 years of job loss. Nationwide, factories have added 400,000 jobs in the last two years, the first sustained bout of growth since the 1990s, replacing about a fifth of the positions lost during the recession. Other companies, from Otis to General Electric, are bringing home jobs once thought lost for good.

Mr. Bink’s enthusiasm has echoed from the factory floor all the way to Washington. During his State of the Union Message, President Obama wove Master Lock’s tale of repatriated jobs into a narrative of recovery that could serve him well in November. “We have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back,” the president said. “But we have to seize it.”

To do so, his administration has proposed a piñata of tax breaks and incentives intended to transform the incipient movement into a new golden age for factory jobs.Things have not looked this promising for manufacturing jobs in a long while. Rising costs in China — where the government is letting the currency gain against the dollar and wages are rising at a double-digit pace — are making it more attractive for American companies to produce at home. Expensive oil adds to the cost by pushing up the price of freight.Yet a revolution in manufacturing employment seems far-fetched. Most of the factory jobs lost over the last three decades in this country are gone for good. In truth, they are not even very good jobs.

As much as the administration needs a jobs strategy, one narrowly focused on manufacturing is unlikely to deliver.

Much of the anxiety about factory jobs is based on the misconception that job losses have been due to a sclerotic manufacturing sector, unable to compete against cheap imports. Until the Great Recession clobbered the world economy, manufacturing production was actually holding its own. Real value added in manufacturing, the most precise measure of its contribution to the economy, has grown by more than two thirds since its heyday in 1979, when manufacturing employed almost 20 million Americans — eight million more than today.

American companies make a smaller share of the world’s stuff, of course. But what else could one expect? Thirty years ago China made very little of anything. Today its factory output is almost 20 percent of world production and about 15 percent of manufacturing value added.

What’s surprising is how little the United States lost in that time. American manufacturers contribute more than a fifth to global value added.

Manufacturers are shedding jobs around the industrial world. Germany lost more than a fifth of its factory jobs from 1991 to 2007, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, about the same share as the United States. Japan — the manufacturing behemoth of the 1980s — lost a third.

This was partly because of China’s arrival on the world scene after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Since then, China has gained nearly 40 million factory jobs. But something else happened too: companies across the developed world invested in labor-saving technology.

Consider Master Lock. Its Milwaukee plant is operating at capacity for the first time in 15 years, before it started sending work overseas. It is producing much more stuff than it did back then. But it is doing so with 412 workers — about 750 fewer than it had 15 years ago.

“They used to throw bodies at something to get the job done,” said Ron McInroy, the U.A.W.’s head for the region encompassing Milwaukee. “Now they look at the best utilization of manpower and the best utilization of machines.”

So it is across the economy. In his forthcoming book, “The New Geography of Jobs,” the University of California, Berkeley, economist Enrico Moretti points out that the average American factory worker makes $180,000 worth of goods a year, more than three times what he produced in 1978, in today’s dollars.

It may not matter to factory workers who lost their jobs. Whether forced out because an employer moved production to China or because a fancy new machine makes it easier to compete against a rival in China, the job is gone.

Still, the distinction is important. Without an understanding of the forces at work, policy makers’ attempts to bolster manufacturing could backfire.

One thing is clear. Most of the jobs lost to China and other poor countries cannot “come back.” They don’t pay anywhere near enough. And they don’t exist here anymore anyway.

The factory jobs we really want will be fewer and will require more education. But they will pay more.

Remember agriculture? In the 1960s, plant scientists at the University of California, Davis, developed an oblong tomato that ripened uniformly, and its engineers developed a machine to harvest it with one pass through the fields. By the 1970s the number of workers hired for the tomato harvest in California had fallen by 90 percent.

In the book “Promise Unfulfilled,” Philip Martin, an economist at the university, says that in 1979 the worker advocacy group California Rural Legal Assistance sued the university for using public money on research that helped agribusiness at the expense of farm workers. And in 1980, Jimmy Carter’s agriculture secretary, Bob Bergland, declared that the government wouldn’t finance any more projects aimed at replacing “an adequate and willing work force with machines.”

It’s hard to say that workers won this battle, however. After Mr. Bergland pulled the plug, research on agricultural mechanization came to a near-halt. Yet farm work today remains probably the worst paid, most grueling job in the United States.

A tricky thing to understand is that most jobs in the United States are created in areas of the economy not exposed to global competition. They are nannies and doctors, lawyers and roofers. In a recent study, the Nobel laureate Mike Spence and Sandile Hlatshwayo of New York University found that the part of the economy that does not have foreign competitors added 27.3 million jobs from 1990 to 2008. The sector that competes in global markets added virtually none.

This doesn’t mean the administration should ignore manufacturing. We need world-class, innovative industries that compete in global markets. They won’t add a ton of jobs precisely because they must stay lean to compete. But they will pay for those jobs.

The 33,000 Apple workers in Cupertino, Calif., sustain 171,000 additional jobs in the metropolitan area, Mr. Moretti estimates.

This pattern suggests, however, that a jobs strategy should take care not to blunt the edge of
our most competitive firms. If outsourcing sharpens their edge on world markets, punishing then for doing so could destroy American jobs.

More important, perhaps, manufacturing is not the nation’s only cutting-edge industry. Many of the most innovative firms are not manufacturers but service companies. Apple is very competitive. But so are the companies that design applications running on its iPhones and iPads. Hollywood studios and marketing companies are big exporters. These firms need highly trained workers and pay high wages.

Mr. Moretti says each job in an “innovation” industry, broadly understood, creates five other local jobs, about three times the number for an average job in manufacturing. Two of them are highly paid professional positions and three are low-paid jobs as waiters or clerks.

Innovation — not manufacturing —has always propelled this country’s progress. A strategy to reward manufacturers who increase their payroll in the United States may not be as effective as one to support the firms whose creations — whether physical stuff or immaterial services — can conquer world markets and pay for the jobs of the rest of us.

What are your thoughts on The Promise of Today’s Factory Jobs?

Manufacturing Jobs Still Matter, As Does the Dollar

Published in today’s BUSINESS INSIDER Article by: Dean BakerCEPR | Apr. 4, 2012, Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research Contact: Mr. Dean Baker Subscribe to his RSS feed
Eduardo Porter had an interesting column in the NYT discussing the future of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. economy and the role of trade. While the piece makes several valid points, it seriously underplays the importance of manufacturing jobs. Remarkably, it also does not discuss the trade deficit and the dollar.The piece is correct in saying that there is nothing intrinsically good about manufacturing jobs and that it makes little difference to manufacturing workers whether they lose their jobs to trade or productivity growth. Nonetheless, it is still true that manufacturing remains a source of relatively high-paying jobs for workers without college degrees. This may be the result of a historically legacy and higher than average unionization rates, but it is still the reality.The issue of trade is also important, because the loss of jobs as a result of trade deficit creates a situation that is in the long-run unsustainable. If the economy return to full employment we would have a trade deficit of close to 5 percent of GDP (@$750 billion a year). A trade deficit of this size logically implies negative national savings of the same magnitude. That means that we must have either negative private savings (i.e. households and firms have negative savings) and/or a government budget deficit that is equal to $750 billion a year.
Of course the main factor in determining the size of the trade deficit is the value of the dollar. If the dollar is over-valued by 15 percent, it means that our exports will cost roughly 15 percent more for people in other countries while imports will cost roughly 15 percent less for people living in the United States. There is no policy or set of policies that can have anywhere near as much impact on trade as the value of the dollar.This is why a discussion of the value of the dollar should be front and center in any discussion of trade. If the dollar were to fall by 10-15 percent, and bring trade back into balance, it would generate close to 5 million new manufacturing jobs in the United States. This would have an enormous impact on the labor market for less-educated workers.The article also includes a comparison of jobs that are subject to international competition and jobs that are not. This is highly misleading. Whether or not a job is subject to international competition is a matter of policy, not an intrinsic feature of the job. The fact that manufactured goods are widely traded is the result of long set of trade agreements over the last three decades that were deliberately designed to make it as easy as possible for U.S. firms to hire low-cost labor in the developing world and ship their production back to the United States. Our trade negotiators could have instead devoted their energies to make it as easier as possible for foreign students to train to U.S. standards as doctors, dentists, lawyers, economists or other professionals. There are tens of millions of very bright people in China, India, Mexico and elsewhere in the developing world who would be very happy to train to U.S. standards in these professions, including becoming proficient in English, and work in the United States for less than $100,000 a year. We do actually bring large numbers of foreign workers into the country in some occupations, but they tend to be low-paying ones. Immigrant workers are enormously important in farm work, restaurant and hotel work and residential construction. They would be equally dominate among physicians, dentists and lawyers if they faced as few barriers as they do to working in these low-paying occupations. The savings to U.S. consumers from this sort of expanded trade in professional services would be hundreds of billions of dollars annually in the form of lower health care costs, reduced university tuition and savings on all other products in which the cost of highly paid professionals is a major input. The reason that trade agreements did not take this route is that U.S. professionals have much more political power than manufacturing workers. As a result, they have been able to maintain barriers that largely protect them from competition with their counterparts in the developing and developed world. (U.S. professionals also make more than their counterparts in Europe.)
We are glad that Manufacturing Jobs Still Matter, how about you?

Made in USA – All American Clothing Company Keeps True to Its Name

By: Elizabeth Peterson, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor 
Lawson Nickol, founder and president of the All American Clothing Company, doesn’t talk about business in terms of profit and loss. Instead, he measures his success as a businessman by how well he sleeps at night. And lately, he’s been sleeping really well.His online retail and manufacturing company, based in Arcanum, Ohio, is one of the only clothing companies in the country to manufacture all of its products within the United States, using exclusively American raw materials. The cotton in a pair of American Clothing Company jeans is grown in the United States. The denim is woven here as well. The buttons and zippers are made here, too. And despite the fact that American labor is significantly more expensive than foreign labor, the All American Clothing Company manufactures all of its apparel in the United States.

In an age where approximately 98 percent of all clothing worn by Americans is produced overseas, Nickol’s company is a true rarity. Furthermore, his ideas about how to run a clothing manufacturing company are a far cry from modern industry standards. No pep talks about profit and productivity here. Nickol’s company mantra is: “Creativity, implementation and progress.”

Inspired by a shocking discovery

Nickol co-founded the American Clothing Company with his son, B.J., in 2003. Prior to this venture, Nickol was employed by another blue jean manufacturer, who he declined to name. After decades of working as a salesman of American-made jeans, Nickol discovered that the company he had worked for had begun outsourcing its production to another country. That hallmark of American identity, the beloved blue jean, was now being made in Mexico.

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That was all it took for Nickol to leave his job and strike out on his own. This was in 2002. The American apparel industry has since all but fled the country. It is an industry which has steadily diminished in size over the last ten years and is continuing to do so. Its demise means an end to thousands of jobs for Americans, including factory workers, seamstresses and farmers.In starting the American Clothing Company, Nickol’s hope was to reemploy at least a small fraction of those American workers displaced by foreign labor. By keeping his company all-American, he is forgoing the profit gained in the use of cheap labor for something more important: a decent standard of living for his employees. Nickol, a family man and a self-proclaimed homebody, values his own quality of life, as well as that of his employees, above all else.

“It’s about people and the enjoyment of a standard of living. We eat well and we know our job [is] going to be there tomorrow,” Nickol said.

Nickol predicts that he could be making 25 to 50 percent more profit if he were to outsource clothing production to Mexico or some other country. But outsourcing is not an option for his company, whose clientele appreciates the patriotism and ingenuity that the All American Clothing Company represents. Many of All American’s customers are veterans over the age of 50, a demographic that is nostalgic for the more self-sufficient America of decades past and wary of the outsourcing of so much American industry. His customers are as concerned with buying from a company whose emphasis lies not only in providing its customers with quality products but in caring for its employees.

Investing in America

Nickol said he wishes other companies would follow his lead and move production back to the United States. He added that he wouldn’t even mind the competition.

“We’re all here to help each other get through this,” he said.”I have a passion for the U.S., and I am so terribly sick of the situation we have right now, and what happens to honest, hard-working people.”

According to a recent study by the nonpartisan think tank Economic Policy Institute, the outsourcing of manufacturing and other jobs to China alone has cost the United States approximately 2.8 million jobs in the past decade. Many of these jobs come from within the apparel industry

Nickol said he considers this dependence on foreign labor to be unhealthy for the U.S. economy for many reasons, including the destruction of an income tax base to provide funding for public schools and other necessary services. He said his goal is to help restore health to the American economy through his role as an innovator in the apparel industry. To this end, he is often reminding himself and his employees that the time to fix the U.S.’s broken economy is now.

While others measure their progress in dollars, he tends to think of progress in terms of how well he can accomplish his goals. His advice to other entrepreneurs considering trying to change the way American businesses run: “Don’t let things happen to you,” he said. “Go make something happen.”

Made in USA – All American Clothing Company, thank you for staying true to your name!

USA Manufacturing, Household Spending Probably Rose

By Lorraine Woellert – Apr 2, 2012Manufacturing probably picked up in the U.S. in March, showing it is weathering a slowdown in global growth, economists said before a report today.The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index climbed to 53 from 52.4 in February, according to a median estimate of 55 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Readings greater than 50 signal growth. Construction spending rose in February, other data may show.

“Manufacturers are benefiting from a variety of positive catalysts, including the need to replace a fleet of motor vehicles,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. “And we just haven’t got back to the previous peak in inventory that should benefit the sector and the national economy for some time.”

Increased auto sales, sustained corporate purchases of equipment and inventory rebuilding are underpinning the industry that led the U.S. out of the recession more than two years ago. At the same time, less demand from overseas customers remains a risk for manufacturers, which account for about 12 percent of the economy.The Tempe, Arizona-based ISM’s manufacturing report is due at 10 a.m. New York time. Estimates ranged from 51.7 to 54.5. The gauge averaged 55.2 in 2011 and 57.3 a year earlier.Also at 10 a.m., the Commerce Department will release data on construction spending. Economists project a 0.7 percent gain after a 0.1 percent January decrease, according to the Bloomberg survey median. Forecasts ranged from a drop of 0.6 percent to an increase of 1.5 percent.

Regional DataRegional reports reinforce the strength of manufacturing. New York-area factories grew in March at the fastest rate since June 2010 and manufacturing in the Philadelphia region expanded the most in almost a year, figures from the Federal Reserve showed.

While companies are investing in new equipment, a stronger labor market is giving households the means to purchase big- ticket items, benefiting companies like motor-home maker Winnebago Industries Inc. (WGO)

“We’re beginning to see positive signs that the economy is improving,” Randy Potts, chief executive officer of the Forest City, Iowa-based company, said on a March 15 conference call. “Consumer confidence has been trending higher and the jobless rate is improving.”

Manufacturing shares have outperformed the market. The Standard & Poor’s Supercomposite Industrial Machinery Index (S15MACH), which includes Caterpillar Inc. and Deere & Co., advanced 16 percent since the end of 2011 through March 30, compared with a 12 percent increase in the broader S&P 500.

Auto SalesLight-vehicle sales in March, set for release tomorrow, may have run at a 14.6 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. It would cap the strongest quarter since the first three months of 2008, according to Ward’s Automotive Group statistics.

A report last week showed orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft — a proxy for business investment in items such as computers, engines and communications gear — increased 1.2 percent in February.

Business spending on equipment and software climbed at a 7.5 percent pace in the final three months of 2011 after a 16.2 percent surge in the prior quarter, according to the latest Commerce Department data on gross domestic product.

The growth helps explain why companies like Deere & Co. (DE) are expanding. The world’s largest maker of agricultural equipment said March 1 that it would invest $70 million to expand tractor production in Waterloo, Iowa.

Fed’s BernankeFederal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last week that while he was encouraged by the recent decline in the unemployment rate, a further reduction will probably require a quicker expansion of business production and consumer demand, which “can be supported by continued accommodative policies,” he said.

Recent “better news” on the U.S. economy has also included strength in manufacturing, Bernanke said. The improvement could contribute to higher consumer confidence and lead to a self-sustaining recovery, he said. “We haven’t seen that in a persuasive way yet,” Bernanke said in a speech in Arlington, Virginia.

USA Manufacturing, Household Spending Rose

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To contact the reporters on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz in Washington at [email protected]

#POTUS Gets Made in Maine New Balance Sneakers

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This photo released Friday, March 30, 2012 by Rep Mike Michaud, D-Maine, and New Balance, shows details of a pair of New Balance running shoes, customized for President Barack Obama, at the company’s Norridgewock, Maine, facility. Michaud had the special pair of shoes made for the president to underscore the company’s production in Maine, where it employs 900 workers. 

By Associated Press – March 31, 2012
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud used President Barack Obama’s visit to the state on Friday to try to give a boost to what’s left of its shoe industry, urging the commander-in-chief to insist that the Department of Defense provide U.S.-made sneakers to new recruits.Michaud, D-Maine, had a special pair of New Balance sneakers made for the president, underscoring the company’s continued production in Maine, where it employs 900 workers.”The Department of Defense is circumventing the Berry Amendment that requires the military to be attired head to toe in American-made clothing,” Michaud said Friday, adding that U.S.-made sneakers would be consistent with Obama’s goal of bolstering domestic manufacturing.

Obama, who overwhelmingly won Maine in the 2008 election, returned to the state to attend a pair of re-election campaign fundraisers, the first at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, where it was moved to accommodate a larger number of supporters.Later, a private reception and dinner for about 130 people paying $5,000 or more apiece was held at the Portland Museum of Art in downtown Portland, where a small group of Occupy-inspired protesters complained about economic inequality.
Obama decided to get some Maine made shoes. President gets Made in USA New Balance Sneakers.In South Portland, a boisterous crowd of nearly 2,000 supporters cheered the president, who told them that his administration has helped to foster job creation, avoided an economic meltdown and improved health care, in contrast to the GOP’s “you’re-own-your-own economics.”Obama told supporters that he fulfilled his promise to end the war in Iraq, and he said some of the savings should be invested in infrastructure and research.

“Let’s take the money that we’re no longer spending on the war,” he said. “Let’s use half of it to pay down our national debt and the other half to do some nation-building here at home.”

The back-to-back events featured some of the best of Maine, with lobster corndogs, lobster rolls, oysters, smoked salmon and beef, all produced in the state.

The sneakers, with “President Obama” sewn on the heels, also were made in Maine by New Balance, part of a dwindling number of shoe brands that carry the “Made in the USA” label.

Nationwide, the number of shoe-manufacturing jobs has dropped from more than 200,000 in the 1970s to about 12,500, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In Maine, well-known Maine brands such as G.H. Bass, Cole Haan, Sebago and Dexter have shuttered factories and moved production out of the country.

New Balance, which has three factories in Maine and two in Massachusetts, plus others overseas, is the last major athletic shoe manufacturer in the U.S., company spokesman Matt LeBretton said.

The Department of Defense circumvents the Berry Amendment by giving new recruits allowances so they can buy their own shoes for athletic training, Michaud said. The shoes used for physical training should be put out to bid just like military boots, he said.

The Obama administration declined to comment. But Obama did mention manufacturing in his speech, saying he wants the next generation of manufacturing “to take place right here in Maine.”

New Balance contends that there are several other U.S. companies that would be interested if the Department of Defense chose to put the athletic shoes out to bid.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said LeBretton, the company spokesman. “We’re asking the Defense Department to follow the law. We’re not asking for special treatment or an earmark for our company. We’re just asking them to follow the law on the books.”

Can Manufacturing Jobs Come Back? What We Should Learn From Apple and Foxconn

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David Paul – President, Fiscal Strategies Group  –  Posted: 02/13/2012 8:30 amApple aficionados suffered a blow a couple of weeks ago. All of those beautiful products, it turns out, are the product of an industrial complex that is nothing if not one step removed from slave labor.

But of course there is nothing new here. Walmart has long prospered as a company that found ways to drive down the cost of stuff that Americans want. And China has long been the place where companies to go to drive down cost.

For several decades, dating back to the post World War II years, relatively unfettered access to the American consumer has been the means for pulling Asian workers out of deep poverty. Japan emerged as an industrial colossus under the tutelage of Edward Deming. The Asian tigers came next. Vietnam and Sri Lanka have nibbled around the edges, while China embraced the export-led economic development model under Deng Xiaoping.


While Apple users have been beating their breasts over the revelations of labor conditions and suicides that sullied their glass screens, the truth is that Foxconn is just the most recent incarnation of outsourced manufacturing plants — textiles and Nike shoes come to mind — where working conditions are below American standards.While the Apple-Foxconn story has focused attention on the plight of workers living in dormitories who can be summoned to their work stations in a manner of minutes, the story has also become part of the debate about whether the U.S. should seek to bring back manufacturing jobs or should instead accept the conclusions reached by some economists that not only does America not need manufacturing jobs, but it can no longer expect to have them.

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz argued recently that our difficulties recovering from the 2008 collapse are a function of our migration from a manufacturing to a service economy. While this migration has been ongoing for years, Stiglitz has concluded that the trend is irreversible. His historical metaphor is the Great Depression, which he suggests was prolonged because the nation was in the midst of a permanent transition from an agrarian economy to manufacturing, as a revolution in farm productivity required a large segment of the labor force to leave the farm.

The problem with this deterministic conclusion that America can no longer support a manufacturing sector is that it seems to ignore the facts surrounding the decline that we have experienced. In his recent article, Stiglitz notes that at the beginning of the Great Depression, one-fifth of all Americans worked on farms, while today “2 percent of Americans produce more food than we can consume.” This is a stark contrast with trends in the U.S. manufacturing sector. Manufacturing employment, which approximated 18.7 million in 1980 has declined by 37%, or 7 million jobs, in the ensuing years. However, the increase in labor productivity over that timeframe — 8% in real terms — explains little of the decline. Unlike the comparison with agriculture, where we continue to produce more than we consume, most of the decline in manufacturing jobs correlated with the steady increase in our imports of manufactured goods and our steadily growing merchandise trade deficit.

The chart below, based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, illustrates the growth in personal spending on manufactured goods in the United States over the past three decades, and the parallel growth in the share of that spending that is on imported goods. These changes happened over a fifty-year period. Going back to the 1960s, we imported about 10% of the stuff we buy. By the end of the 1970s — a period of significant declines in core industries such as steel and automobiles — this number grew to over 25%. As illustrated here, the trend continued to the current day, and we now import around 60% of the stuff we buy.

Over the same timeframe, as illustrated below, the merchandise trade deficit — the value of goods we import less the value we export — exploded. By the time of the 2008 collapse, the trade deficit in manufactured goods translated into 3.5 million “lost” jobs, if one applies a constant metric of labor productivity to the value of that trade deficit.
This is where Stiglitz’ comparison with the Depression era migration from an agrarian economy breaks down. As he duly notes, the economics of food production has changed, and today America’s agricultural sector feeds the nation and sustains a healthy trade surplus as well, with a far smaller share of the American workforce. In contrast, the decline in manufacturing jobs reflects the opening of world labor markets. Unlike agriculture, we are not self-supporting in manufactured goods, we have simply decided to buy abroad what we once made at home.This shift has been embraced across our society. For private industry, outsourcing to Asia has been driven by profit-maximizing behavior and the pressures of surviving in competitive markets. For consumers, innovations in retail from Walmart to Amazon.com have fed the urge to get the greatest value for the lowest price. And for politicians — Democrats and Republicans alike — embracing globalization was part of the post-Cold War tradeoff: We open our markets, and the world competes economically and reduces the threat of nuclear conflict.

The notion that American industry, consumers and politicians were co-conspiring in the destruction of the American working class was a discussion relegated to the margins of public discourse, championed among others by union leaders, Dennis Kucinich on the left, Pat Buchanan on the right and Ross Perot, while largely dismissed by the mainstream media.

While Apple has been pilloried from National Public Radio to the New York Times for its effective support of a slave economy, most electronics consumer goods are now imported. The irony of the Apple story is that the Chinese labor content may well not be the cost driver that we presume it to be. As in many other industries, the costs of what is in the box can be a relatively small share of total costs, when product development, marketing, packaging and profits are taken into account.

This, of course, is why China is not particularly happy with their role in the Apple supply chain. When the profits of Apple products are divided up, far more of it flows to Cupertino than to Chengdu. And that is the reality of modern manufacturing. Based on National Science Foundation data on the value chain of the iPad, for example, final assembly in China captures only $8 of the $424 wholesale price. The U.S. captures $150 for product design and marketing, as well as $12 for manufactured components, while other nations, including Japan, Korea and the Taiwan, capture $76 for other manufactured components.

If anything, the NSF data — and China’s chagrine — reflect a world in which the economic returns to design and innovation far exceed the benefits that accrue to the line workers who manufacture the product. This is one part of the phenomenon of growing inequality, and would seem to mitigate the complaint that is often made that America no longer “makes things.” We may not make things, but we think them up and as the NSF data suggests, to the designers go the spoils.

Yet there is no fundamental reason that the decline in man
ufacturing jobs in America should be deemed inevitable and permanent. For all the talk about the number of engineers in China, the fundamental issue remains price. As a friend who is a consulting engineer who works with Apple in China has commented, “Yeah, they have engineers, but the driver is cost, cost, cost. And the labor quality is awful. We lose a lot of product and have to stay on top of everything, but at $27 per day, you can afford a lot of management.”

This argument conflicts with Stiglitz deterministic thesis. Just as manufacturing jobs left the United States, they can come back as economic conditions change. As wage rates rise in other countries, one competitive advantage of outsourcing shrinks. And if nations — from China to Taiwan — migrate away from their practice of pegging their currencies to the dollar, foreign currency risk exposure will offset some of the cost advantages of outsourcing. And today, as newly industrialized nations like Brazil have seen their own manufacturing sectors ravaged by mercantilist competitors, there is a growing understanding for the need for order and fair rules to govern the forces of globalization.

The Apple-Foxconn affair spooked consumers of Apple products — at least for a news cycle or two. Like Claude Rains in Rick’s Cabaret, we were shocked to confront the reality of labor conditions in China. But the story was less about China than about us. That Foxconn could put eight thousand workers to work within thirty minutes to accommodate a last minute design change by Steve Jobs was not — as Jobs suggested in a meeting with President Obama — an argument for why those jobs could never come back to America, but rather it was illustrative of the astonishing narcissism of the Apple world.

It is true, no American factory could deliver for Apple as Foxconn did. But on the other hand, there really was no need to. That story was less about what Foxconn could deliver than what Foxconn’s customer had the audacity to demand.

This story raised the question of whether we care where our products are made. The answer is unclear, however many Americans have long cared about purchasing cars made in this country, and Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl ad has raised awareness of this question. What is clear is that if Americans care about where their products are made, companies will care. Therefore, even as the president promoted tax credits for insourcing — the new word for bringing those jobs back — perhaps another step would be to build on the power of choice. Perhaps not all Americans care where their products are made, but many certainly do. But even if one does care, it tends to be difficult to find out.

Perhaps a simple step would be for companies to provide that information to consumers. Even if it was voluntary labeling, knowing who chose to provide information to their customers would tell many of us all we need to know. Then we could find out whether the Apple story really changed anything, and whether consumers might be willing to take more into account that the last dollar saved if it enables us to sustain a diversified economy into the future.

What do you think, Can Manufacturing Jobs Come Back?

Buy Made in USA Products – Yes, it Matters

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We cannot complain about the lack of jobs in the U.S. when we continue to purchase Chinese and other foreign products. The only way to reverse the trend and bring tax dollars back is to BUY MADE IN USA products.“How do I do that when everything is Chinese?”

Answer: Most individual items DO have Made in USA available; Avoid big box stores, search online, and contact the manufacturer if you are not sure.

“But Made in USA products are too expensive.”

Answer: Not true. While the initial cost may be more (in some cases), over the life of the product it is actually less expensive due to repair and/or replacement costs. It is cheaper to buy quality than quantity. Don’t you remember your parents and grandparents fixing things rather than buying new replacements?

Some Facts:

  • Every time you buy a foreign product you are sending a large portion of that money into foreign hands; money that used to stay here and provide good paying jobs and tax revenue for your Local, State, and Federal government. China’s economy is booming while we are in recession.
  • Every time you buy a foreign product you are giving the corporation more reason to continue the outsourcing trend
  • Every time you buy a foreign product you are eliminating a U.S. job. This job could be your relative or neighbors.
  • Every time you buy a foreign product you are lowering your wage. It gives companies and opportunistic politicians the opportunity to call for “streamlining” “lower wages” “lower health-care benefits” “lower taxes for the rich” “lower Social Security” “lower government/the peoples services”
  • Every time you buy a foreign product you are probably purchasing an inferior/cheap product that will most likely fail making it a waste of money. You may have to replace the product several times making it more expensive than the American made equivalent.
  • Every time you buy a foreign product you could be putting yourself and your children at risk by exposure to lead, cadmium, and other toxic materials. Foreign products DO NOT get tested nor is there any consumer protections for these products.
  • Every time you buy a foreign product you are destroying the middle class and their/your neighborhoods. The loss of wages and ultimately their homes provides a decrease in tax revenue and invites rich slumlords to take over once working class areas turning them into neglected slums. Local services such as snow plowing and street paving decline and taxes go up.
  • Every time you buy a foreign product you are helping the rich get richer. Fact is that while the ranks of the middle class dwindle, the rich are gaining complete influence and controlling the direction of Federal and State governments. We have no say when these people are in control. We are losing our voice. Money is #1 to certain individuals/entities. Re-gain control and reverse the trend by using your purchasing power and buy/demand products Made in USA!!!

Courtesy of MadeinUSA