Made in America: A Brief History of U.S. Manufacturing


While the early years of the 20th century America may have been built on manufacturing, economists say that growth in the 21st century will almost certainly depend on services, from design to banking to technology.

U.S. Remains Top Producer of Manufactured Goods

But sometimes lost in all the debate over imports is an important fact -- the United States remains the world's largest producer of manufactured goods.

From Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Steinway pianos, Scotch tape to Louisville Slugger Baseball Bats, plenty of products still roll off our assembly lines for purchase by American consumers.

As a result, more than 11 million Americans still get their paychecks from working in factories, and what U.S. consumers buy can have a big impact. According to Moody's, if every American spent an extra $3.33 on U.S. made goods, it would create nearly 10,000 new American jobs.

Company's Leader on Value of American Workers

Some executives say they get more by employing American workers than just hands in a factory. At Louisville Slugger, the company's leader says that when he faces a problem, he "swims with the fishes" and learns a thing or two from his employees.

"Dive in with the fishes. Find out what's going on and ask them what to do," said Jack Hillerich, chairman of Hillerich & Bradsby Co, the parent of Louisville Slugger.

"Actually, when you give them a problem, it's like giving your fish food. They'll eat it right up and give you a better answer than you ever have had. We always go to our people, ask them what they would do, and they have the right answer," Hillerich said.

Next week, ABC World News begins a challenge to see what it's like to support those American workers with purchases.

With the help of one Texas family, we'll empty their home and fill it back up with only American-made products. What will it look like? How much will it cost? And what can we buy in America right now that will save jobs and possibly even create new ones?

Online and on our broadcast, we invite you to join us and learn what it really means to be "Made in America."

Click here to return to the "World News" page.

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