Reasons to Buy American-Made Goods
According to a 2015 report by Consumer Reports, 80% of American shoppers say they prefer to buy goods made in the United States. More than 60% say they’d even be willing to pay 10% more for an American-made product.
Shoppers have many different reasons for choosing American-made goods, including the following:
- Jobs. The most common reason shoppers give for buying American is to help save or create jobs in the United States. According to a 2015 report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the U.S. lost a total of 5.7 million manufacturing jobs between 1998 and 2013 – partly because of the Great Recession, but mostly because of trade imbalances with foreign nations like China and Mexico.
- Lower Carbon Footprint. Products made overseas have a higher carbon footprint than U.S.-made goods. Goods made in China or India have to be shipped all the way across the ocean to reach American stores, burning fossil fuel and spewing out greenhouse gases with every mile they travel.
- Less Pollution. One reason it’s cheaper to make goods in developing countries is that many of them have few or no regulations to protect the health of the air and water. Many factories overseas that produce goods for export to the United States also produce large amounts of hazardous chemicals that pollute the air, water, and soil. A 2014 paper by a team of Chinese researchers, published in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that the U.S. has effectively “outsourced” much of its air pollution to China, where more than 33% of sulfur dioxide emissions and around 25% of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide come from the production of goods for export.
- Human Rights. In addition to having weaker environmental regulations, the countries that produce the goods Americans buy often have no laws to protect the rights of workers. A 2015 report from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights documents how Chinese workers who produce toys for American brands such as Hasbro, Mattel, and Disney work 12- to 13-hour days and sleep on plywood bunk beds in crowded, dirty, and freezing dormitories. An earlier report from 2006 uncovered child labor at a factory in Bangladesh that produced clothing sold by Walmart and JCPenney. Conditions in these foreign sweatshops can even turn deadly, as in the 2013 collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 employees.
- Health. The lack of environmental and safety regulations overseas doesn’t just put foreign workers at risk – it can also threaten the health of American consumers. In 2007, dozens of types of children’s toys made in China were recalled because they were unsafe. Some posed a choking hazard, while others contained dangerous chemicals like lead paint and kerosene, according to The New York Times.
- A Stronger Economy. Buying American-made goods doesn’t just support the workers who make those goods. Its benefits also ripple out through the entire economy. When American factories prosper, they hire American construction firms to expand their buildings, American accounting firms to handle their money, and American energy suppliers to provide them with power. The EPI estimates that every U.S. manufacturing job supports an additional 1.4 jobs in other parts of the economy.