- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2013


You needn’t be a fan of Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born in the USA” or a fashionista familiar with QVC designer Susan Graver, who proudly touts her U.S.-manufactured designs, to appreciate that being “Made in America” is making a comeback.

Let us celebrate that this Labor Day 2013 is trending toward its home-grown meaning.

No offense to American union workers, but we don’t exactly have to look for the ladies’ garment workers label to determine whether our clothing is made in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Labels on garments that are branded by Reebok (Thailand), Old Navy (Indonesia, Cambodia and Madagascar) and Target’s Mossimo (Egypt) remind us why bathing beauties this summer might have preferred and looked so enticing in made-in-America Longitude swimwear.

But there appears to be several reasons why a manufacturing trend is on the horizon — and if a resurgence in U.S.-manufactured goods and exports continues, well, that will bode well for the U.S. economy in general and U.S. jobs in particular.

Here’s some background, courtesy of an dailyfinance.com article posted Friday.

“Just a few years ago, you likely wouldn’t have believed an article touting American manufacturing as a growing force in the global economy — and for good reason. For much of the past 15 years, U.S. exports and our manufacturing sector have been on the decline. But that trend appears not only to be slowing, but reversing. The data is driven by America’s increasing oil production, a commitment from retailers to buy more domestic goods, and other companies bringing their previously offshored manufacturing back home — a trend called ‘reshoring.’ “

And here’s the not-made-in-America skinny: “U.S. manufacturing accounted for 19 percent of global exports in the year 2000. By 2011, that number had shrunk to 11 percent. During that same time, Chinese manufacturing surged from 7 percent to 21 percent of global exports. For the American factory and its workers, not to mention the economy, these were troubling numbers,” as dailyfinance.com reported.

Corporate America, the 1 percenters being ripped to shreds by Big Labor and their bed partners — liberals and progressives — are seemingly flipping the well-scripted criticism of greed.

Analysts say that with manufacturers currently employing 12 million Americans, a U.S. export boom could push down our unemployment rate by 2 to 3 points to 5.4 percent — relief worth praying for.

The dailyfinance.com article said Chinese manufacturing is maturing and explained it this way: “According to the Boston Consulting Group, the U.S. is becoming one of the least expensive places in the developed world for manufacturing. We’ve got cheap domestic sources for energy (thanks to the shale gas production boom), as well as relatively low wages. These cost advantages make U.S. manufacturing more akin to China or India just a couple of years ago. BCG projects that by 2015, U.S. labor will cost between 8 percent and 18 percent less than in the other five major export economies (Germany, Japan, France, Italy, and Great Britain).”

Companies banking on “Made in America” labels include Brooks Brothers, which bought a plant in Haverhill, Mass., a few years ago to make suits here instead of offshore, and Caterpillar opened a $200 million plant in Texas a year ago.

And the No. 1 brand in motorcycling, Harley-Davidson, the 110-year-old stalwart of “Made in America,” is even reworking its management-labor relations by renegotiating with unions and granting workers more flexible job classifications and duties.

“[T]he combination of reshoring and building out new manufacturing facilities in the U.S. could create as many as 5 million new jobs here,” dailyfinance.com said.

So, see. It’s all good.

The dreamers in and around the comprehensive immigration-reform movement are having their say about being “Born in the USA.” Well, corporate America is retrending toward having its say, too.

“Made in America?”

Hard-working Americans should bet on it.

Happy Labor Day.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com

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