In Pictures: Technology Made in the U.S.A.
Made in the USA. It was a stamp that was proudly displayed on many products for well over a half century. Catalytic events, such as the Embargo Act of 1807 and the War of 1812, found America compelled into becoming economically independent of the global market upon which it had so heavily relied and, in turn, had responded by developing a self-sustaining industry.
Though America may have been late to join the Industrial Revolution, it quickly became the dominant leader in innovating technologies which would fuel the growth of manufacturing processes, as well as transportation of goods. What resulted was a rise in both the upper and middle classes and a growing need for unskilled, low-paid factory workers.
However, two of the key components that ushered companies into making strides in domestic manufacturing eventually contributed to the decline in products being made in the USA. Government imposed tariffs, once intended to protect American manufacturers, were lifted and once cheap factory labor (which helped keep production costs down) found government reform and labor regulation. Labor was no longer dirt cheap and unions were born to protect the workers from hazardous and/or unsanitary working conditions.
By the late 1960’s, manufacturers were now confronted with a rapidly growing global economy. Substantial strides, in both technology and transportation methods, were being made and the race was on. The squeeze to stay competitive against rival global markets meant one thing - lowering production costs. Where manufacturing had once comprised 53% of the US economy in 1965, it had fallen to 39% by 1988 and just 9% by 2004.