Made in America: Consumers, Corporations & Innovation Indicate Growth
As the U.S. economy has begun to turn around, there are many speculating about the state of manufacturing. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), manufacturers contributed $1.87 trillion to the economy in 2012, which is up from $1.73 trillion in 2011. What’s more, based on data and analysis from NAM as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing supports an estimated 17.2 million jobs in the U.S.
Now, naysayers do exist, just as they do with any economically driven issue. However, there are some very strong indicators that project a much brighter outlook. For starters, during the month of July, manufacturing in New York expanded at the fastest rate in five months. This jump is largely credited to a growing and consistent demand for housing and automobiles.
Not far down the road in the newly coined “Tech-Belt” region, which is the manufacturing-based land between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, more development is being made. Although this region was hit very hard by the economic downturn, it is bouncing back stronger than ever. Youngstown, Ohio, specifically, is now the home of the recently established National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). The organization is primarily focused on stimulating additive manufacturing technologies in the U.S. and increasing domestic manufacturing competitiveness. According to Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio’s 13th District, they are getting calls from major manufacturers who want to move operations into the area. NAMII is also providing training to take manufacturing into the next generation of work.
Consumers are also demonstrating optimistic behavior toward the future of manufacturing. The Consumer Reports Research Center found that 78 percent of Americans would rather purchase an American product when given the choice between the same product made elsewhere. This data was found through a nationally representative survey conducted earlier this year. More than 80 percent of those surveyed claimed they wanted to preserve manufacturing jobs and maintain America’s strong presence in the global economy. Over 60 percent even indicated they would be willing to pay more for American products.
Apart from these high percentages, another apparently growing trend is the fact that consumers want to be educated about products. In today’s world, consumers desire products that reflect their beliefs and values, whether it be organic, local, or other niche preferences.
Corporations are also in tune to these trends. It appears that industrial manufacturing is returning to U.S. soil as part of an initiative that’s being called “reshoring production.” The Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey last year and found that over one-third of U.S.-based companies that have sales beyond $1 billion either have plans already in place or are considering coming back to the U.S.
Apple is already boasting of its involvement with this effort through its “Designed by Apple in California” TV ad campaign. Although the tech giant has taken a lot of heat in the past regarding its offshore manufacturing, it seems devoted to removing that stigma. The tech giant is also planning to name the new versions of Apple’s Mac operating system after places in its home state of California.
Chrysler is another company that is also pushing its American pride. The company’s moving Super Bowl ad showcasing its “Imported From Detroit” mantra can hardly be forgotten.
Motorola also debuted the first smartphone to ever be assembled in the U.S. on August 1. The device, called Moto X, is the first Google-influenced product from the company since the search and advertising giant acquired it in 2012.
“There are more than 130 million smartphones in use in the USA today and not one of them was assembled here… until now,” wrote Motorola spokesperson Danielle McNally back in May.
The Moto X is being assembled in Fort Worth, Texas and has brought a reported 2,000 jobs to the area.
Although the specific reasons that motivate these companies and others likely vary, it is clear that they see the need to invest further into the United States. Interestingly enough, Motorola did note that it would be able to “iterate on design much faster, create a leaner supply chain, respond much more quickly to purchasing trends and demands, and deliver devices to people here much more quickly.”
Beyond the consumer and corporation interest in America, innovation in the U.S. is also growing by leaps and bounds. Multiple crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter, have risen up in recent years that essentially democratize funding efforts. Since the passing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) last year, research firm Massolution, which is operated by Crowdsourcing.org, found that the crowdfunding market grew 81 percent in 2012, which translates into $2.7 billion and over one million campaigns. It expects the market to grow to $5.1 billion by the end of this year.
There are still hoops to be overcome in regards to equity crowdfunding, but the fact remains that innovation is here and is growing. This combined with the reshoring efforts and consumers’ longing for American products convey a promising outlook for the United States.
Image of Representative Tim Ryan courtesy of https://timryan.house.gov/.