But the Made in America movement is not confined to government contracts funded by taxpayer money. Many private-sector industries have been “reshoring” over the past several years, responding both to rising labor costs abroad as well as a growing consumer demand for locally produced goods. While the Trans-Pacific Partnership could undermine this trend, 60,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs have been added so far this year – a five-fold increase over the previous year.
Consumer pressure is making itself felt in other ways as well. According to Evan Clark, deputy managing editor at Women’s Wear Daily, “Millennials are very conscious of social issues and being environmentally friendly and all of that. So I think Made in the USA ethos resonates very much with that population.”
Clark’s assertion is borne out by numerous surveys. According to one study, 74 percent of consumers said a company’s “social consciousness” was either very important or somewhat important in what they buy and where they buy it. The embrace of socially conscious consumerism is even more prevalent among millennials.
This is something that was not lost on American Apparel when it trailblazed its way to success a decade ago. The company has since fallen on hard times, but the reasons are complex, and certainly not evidence that “Made in America” is a foolish gambit. On the contrary, creating or reshoring U.S. jobs is critical to bringing shared prosperity back home.
Cherri Senders is a longtime L.A.-area businesswoman as well as founder and publisher of Labor 411, a consumer guide to businesses that treat their employees fairly with good wages, benefits and working conditions.
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