Asymmetrical Information - Megan McArdle

Made in America: Hard to Find, and Getting Harder

American-made products are more expensive--if they're available at all

01.16.13 10:09 PM ET

A manufacturer's trade association tried to furnish its offices with things made in the United States.  They almost succeeded, at great cost.  But some things just weren't available

Some pieces were relatively easy to find, according to the group’s executive director, Scott Paul. Trash cans, light switches, and even furniture were all readily available from well-known domestic companies. But if you want a U.S. dishwasher compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, you’ve got one choice: a single model from a line that German-based Bosch manufactures in North Carolina. It cost AAM $1190.

Need computers, televisions or phones for your home or office? A coffee maker or a compact fluorescent light bulb? No such luck. Those products simply aren’t manufactured stateside, Paul said. (They did settle on buying a Keurig.)

"If you look hard enough, you can find clothes. If you shop at Brooks Brothers, you can find some American made clothes, for instance. It's not easy to do, and you're not going to find them at Wal-mart," Paul said. "What you're not going to find is a lot of electronics. No matter where you look."

Remember this ad?  If you're my age, you do--it played on daytime television when I was a kid.  

It seems almost quaint to hear American manufacturing workers encouraging people to look for the union label, when these days they'd be hard pressed to find anything made in America at all.