Buy American is back. On the heels of the Great Recession and the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, a growing number of customers want products that support the U.S. economy. The movement is manifesting itself in a number of ways: Buy American commercials have returned to the airwaves, stores are carrying more U.S.-made goods and many companies are moving parts or all of their operations back to the United States. This could be a good sign for New York, and especially Upstate. New York State is the eight largest manufacturing state in the country and can make many of the products that became good targets for outsourcing overseas.
No issue is more misunderstood than outsourcing. The problem is not outsourcing but rather inappropriate outsourcing, the purchasing abroad of products that could be made as cost-effectively (or more so) at home. That happens when: U.S. or NYS policies create unnecessary barriers to domestic production or where foreign governments unfairly subsidize businesses or simply keep out competitive American products. By some estimates, unnecessary outsourcing is responsible for at least half of the $600 billion U.S. trade deficit. Eliminating half of that could boost domestic demand and the GDP by about $500 billion and add 5 million jobs.
New York State can encourage growth in manufacturing again by reducing the costs of doing business – like rejecting a 45% Thruway Toll increase for trucks – and increasing the availability of skilled workers through a state-wide implementation of certifications in our high schools, tech schools and community colleges. These changes and more can increase advanced manufacturing jobs – which support additional jobs in the service and retail sectors.
A New York State economy that is growing faster would have more jobs, far fewer budget challenges and far more resources to address issues such as health care. Let’s recommit to making it practical and fashionable to “Buy American” and “Buy New York” again.