Jack Simpson: 'Insourcing' a welcome trend



When I see a label on a product that reads "Made in the USA," I get a good feeling. Over the years this label has disappeared from many manufactured goods as we outsourced factories abroad.

Business leaders went overseas seeking more tax breaks and cheaper labor. Meanwhile, American workers lost jobs and gradually our own economy went into a slump.

When you look into your closet, labels in your clothing tell the story. Your shoes are made in China, shirts made in Mexico, perhaps, and pants in India. The television you watch was manufactured in Japan and the car you drive was assembled in Canada.

There once was a time when all these items bore a "Made in the USA" label. We sold our products around the world. Yes, until greater profits could be made by outsourcing.

The offshore boom is becoming less attractive right now. Our labor unions have granted concessions to bring jobs home. Tax laws are changing. Our own oil production is increasing. More products are being made in the USA.

It is a feel-good time as more Americans are experiencing the hard work ethic once known to local cotton mill workers. We are learning new skills and if we continue on this track, we will cause our manufacturing facilities to prosper once again. Perhaps the label "Made in the USA" will again be exported abroad.

This outsourcing was done at a cost. Even if we could buy some goods at lower prices, our own economy suffered. Workers soon could not find jobs; homes went into foreclosure. Many people had to rely on government handouts and unemployment benefits.

Some companies who moved abroad found that by focusing on lower-cost-per-unit output that they may have been shortsighted. The companies became confronted with quality and service problems. They developed hidden costs in shipping, custom duties, fees, even bribes, and a demand by foreign workers for higher wages.

With the state of the American economy and a willingness of workers in the United States to accept less pay, some jobs began coming back home. Not all outsourcing will disappear, but it is a welcome trend.

A lady hairstylist told me just yesterday that she was very pleased to see some outsourced jobs returning home. She has made it a personal crusade to search for products with a "Made in the USA" label when she is shopping. Maybe now her search will become easier. This lady would like to see the United States of America return to its status as a major manufacturer of the world's consumer goods.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.