Made in America?
As I write this blog, ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer is airing a series of reports titled “Made in America.” On March 1, it showed a family who agreed to have everything that wasn’t made in the U.S.A. removed from their home. They would sleep in the house for one night and have their house furnished the next day with nothing but U.S.-manufactured furnishings.
I was shocked when they showed the house after all foreign-made furnishings were removed. The house was practically empty. About all that remained were the kitchen sink, a vase in the dining room and a few blankets. Even the dog had to sleep on the bare floor because his bed was made in China.
ABC goes on to say that in the 1960’s, 10 percent of goods purchased in the U.S. were foreign made. Today that number is almost 60 percent.
Forbes blogger Dan Ikenson (http://blogs.forbes.com/beltway/2011/03/01/with-made-in-america-abc-news-gets-trade-story-all-wrong/) takes issue with ABC’s report. He says, “Today Americans are less likely to find in their homes products manufactured in the United States because U.S. manufacturers have moved on to producing higher value products. American manufacturing isn’t focused on products that consumers find in retail stores, like furniture, hand tools, sporting goods, flatware, draperies, carpeting and clothes. American factories produce more value than any other country’s factories by focusing on producing the highest value products: pharmaceuticals, chemicals, airplanes, sophisticated componentry, technical textiles, and other items often sold directly to other businesses.”
It’s nice to see Ikenson includes airplane manufacturing in his highest-value list. But how immune is aviation? We have seen most airlines shed maintenance jobs and outsource work to third-party repair stations, many of them overseas. Cirrus, Continental Motors and Superior Air Parts have recently announced acquisitions by Chinese-owned companies. Although manufacturing for those companies remains in the U.S., will we eventually see the exodus of those or other valuable aviation manufacturing jobs to other countries?
Made in America. What does it mean for the aviation industry today and in the future?
P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I just realized that I am sitting at my desk that was manufactured in China, typing on my Toshiba laptop that was manufactured in Japan and drinking out of my favorite aviation coffee mug that was made in China. If you leave comments, I can view them on my Japanese-made smart phone.