A large retail industry association said in a report that many imports sold in the United States may contain more U.S. parts and other content, in addition to supporting American jobs, than many consumers and policymakers realize.
The report, "Rethinking Made in America in the 21st Century," “shows the value added at each step along the way, not just in manufacturing but from the initial concept to the finished product. Even in a product that says ‘Made in China,’ much of what goes into that product is ‘Made in America.’ That means millions of American jobs for American workers regardless of what the label might say,” said National Retail Federation President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay in a statement.
The report was prepared for NRF by Laura Baughman, a Washington economist specializing in international trade, and president of The Trade Partnership.
According to the study, apparel products contain more than 70 percent U.S. value on average; some foreign-brand automobiles contain as much as 95 percent U.S. content, while no U.S. car has more than 75 percent U.S. content; and the popular Apple iPod contains $162 in American content compared with $4 in Chinese content, even though it is labeled “Made in China.”
Of $1.85 billion in products imported in 2009, $464 million of the value was American and 10 million U.S. jobs, or 11.2 percent of U.S. employment, were sustained by global supply chains in 2008, the report said.
“Product origin labels are misleading because federal law allows a product to be labeled ‘Made in America’ or ‘Made in USA’ only if American manufacturing workers made the product and ‘all or virtually all’ of the value of significant parts and processing that go into the product were made or done in the United States, according to the report,” NRF said.
“The determination looks only at direct manufacturing costs such as materials, labor and overhead. Non-manufacturing costs such as research and development, product design, marketing and other services are not considered even if all of those activities took place in the United States and were performed by U.S. workers,” the association added.