Is anything really “Made in the USA” anymore?
Yes, actually. Quite a lot is. American manufacturing has enjoyed a resurgence since the Great Recession of 2008, and there are as many manufacturing jobs in the U.S. as there were in the post-WWII days of 1949.
Some companies even are returning their manufacturing to America, although manufacturing workers today make up a much smaller proportion of the workforce than in 1949.
There is no getting around the fact that manufacturing typically is cheaper overseas, where workers often are paid less. Many products thought of as iconic “Americana” no longer are made in the U.S. Following are some everyday favorites that are made overseas.
Like Major League Baseball itself — with players hailing not just from the U.S. but also from the Caribbean, Japan, South Korea, Australia and elsewhere — production of the old “horsehide” is truly an international process.
Official MLB supplier Rawlings makes the balls in Costa Rica. However, the special rubbing mud used to remove new balls’ sheen and enhance pitchers’ grip still comes from the banks of the Delaware River in New Jersey.
2. Blue jeans
Blue jeans were born in 1871 when a Reno, Nevada, tailor collaborated with dry goods merchant Levi Strauss to produce a pair of pants tough enough for hard-working miners.
Today, Levi Strauss & Co., which originated the denim blue jean with its riveted stress points, now makes virtually all of its jeans outside of the U.S.
But the company’s Made in the USA 501® Original Fit Jeans still are made in the U.S.
3. Christmas lights
The first Christmas tree decorated with electric lights appeared on Dec. 22, 1882, in New York City, and sparked enthusiasm for a safer tradition than trees illuminated with burning candles. A zillion multicolored bulbs later, we all know how big the idea has become.
Though electric Christmas lights were an American invention, today none are manufactured in the United States, no doubt due at least in part to the fact they can be made approximately 80% cheaper in China.
4. U.S. flags
China also does a busy export business manufacturing American flags. Many Americans object to the national symbol being made overseas, but bipartisan legislation to ban or restrict U.S. flag imports has failed several times.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimate, in 2016, revealed that more than $5 million worth of flags sold for Fourth of July celebrations were made overseas.
5. Hot Wheels
More than 50 years after zooming into the market, Mattel’s Hot Wheels still are among the best-selling toys in the world.
Hot Wheels were the fifth-best-selling traditional toy last year, according to global information company NPD Group.
Mattel Inc.’s main manufacturing facilities, according to its 2018 annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are in Canada, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand.
6. American Girl
In 1984, textbook author and teacher Pleasant Rowland had a brainstorm about bringing history to life for children — and the result was American Girls dolls and accessories. The company, a subsidiary of Mattel, manufactures the popular toys in China.
“American Girl is best known for imparting valuable life lessons through its inspiring dolls and books, featuring diverse characters from past and present,” says Mattel, in its annual report to the SEC.
The company, headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin, says it has sold 32 million dolls since 1986.
7. Radio Flyer
Radio Flyer, the Chicago-based maker of the iconic little red wagons that for decades have toted many an American child, manufactures most of its products in China, a company spokesperson told us in an email exchange.
The company, led by Chief Wagon Officer Robert Pasin, grandson of founder and Italian immigrant Antonio Pasin, does a smaller amount of its production in the U.S.
8. Etch A Sketch
This member of the National Toy Hall of Fame was the inspiration of French electrical technician André Cassagnes, who used his experience with the clinging properties of an electrostatic charge to invent the mechanical drawing toy. It was licensed and popularized by the Ohio Art Company in 1960.
The manufacture of this baby boomer toy staple was moved to China in the early 2000s.
Which bygone American products do you wish manufacturers would make again?
Content originally appeared in Money Talks News