More Consumers Buy U.S.A.-Made Products

More Consumers Buy U.S.A.-Made Products

Almost exactly a year ago, we wrote about how the artisanal economy—pickle briners, chocolate makers and kombucha fermenters, who reside right in your neighborhood—could be the key to moving America's economy into the next prosperous phase.

It looks like we're making progress.

According to CNBC, more Americans are making a connection between the recession, loss of jobs to foreign manufacturers and what they put in their shopping carts.

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Wal-Mart announced earlier this year that it will source an additional $50 billion of U.S. products in the next 10 years. General Electric is investing $1 billion and creating an estimated 1,500 jobs in the U.S. through its appliance business. Obama, in his State of the Union speech last month, lauded Apple for its plan to shift production of a line of Mac computers to America.

U.S. manufacturing rose to its highest rate in more than a year and a half, as new orders poured in. Meanwhile, imports of apparel and shoes in 2011 declined for the first time ever since the American Apparel & Footwear Association has tracked the numbers.

Granted, more than 97% and 98% of apparel and shoes, respectively, that are sold in the U.S. are still made overseas. And many consumers just can't afford to pay that little extra. But the tide is shifting to our shores for a number of reasons, and not just altruism.

Better for You, Better for Me

First and foremost, consumers associate "Made in the U.S." with higher quality, and especially as being free of some of the toxins associated with Chinese manufacturing in recent years. Plus, "Made in China" no longer means "made with the cheapest labor available." Rising wages have pushed manufacturing costs up, as we explained last year.

According to a Boston Consulting Group report, by 2015 manufacturing goods for U.S. consumers in some parts of the U.S. could be just as economical as manufacturing abroad (and probably a lot less risky, P.R.-wise).

Finally, as consumers become more conscious of how their decisions affect their neighbors and people across the globe, paying more for a high-quality product delivers the extra value of feeling good about that purchase.

A splurge, maybe, but a good one.

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