How great an effort do you make to buy US-made goods rather than imports?

Latest reports say the U.S. trade deficit expanded by nearly 19 percent, a bigger jump than expected. Demand for American products is weak in Europe. But what about here? Today’s Question: How great an effort do you make to buy US-made goods rather than imports?

  • As much as possible, I buy USA, and all big ticket items. Always !

  • linda

    I do make considerable effort to buy “made in America” but it is really tough. Nearly everything is “made in China” no matter where a person shops. I almost never shop Walmart because everything in the store comes from China.

  • Gary F

    I bought US made New Balance shoes on Saturday. I bought a Master padlock the other day, made in USA, there were imports copycat looking ones for about a buck less. I buy Duracell or Engergizer(US made) batteries instead of the Walgreens private label(Made in Indonesia). Not huge, but every buying decision adds up.

    It means sometimes buying something that is a little more expensive. That’s not always easy in today’s world.

  • marikay

    I recently tried to buy cereal bowls made in the USA. I checked Target, Penneys, Wiliam Sonoma. My choices were China, vietnam, or France. I ended up buying some and am now going to find some pottery ones made in the Twin Cities. We try to buy local and when given a choice with the same quality, will choose products made in the US.

  • Greg

    Buying Made in USA is almost always worth the marginal extra up-front cost because of increased quality and longevity. Does it make sense to pay 20% less for Made in China, and then have to purchase 3 or 4 of the same item in the equivalent time period-which does nothing but fill landfills, shift power and jobs overseas, and make you put up with shoddy tools when you need them? Buy USA. If you don’t, you can blame yourself for our lost jobs…

  • No effort at all. In most cases there is no “Made in America” alternative. However, if I had a job and were buying a new car, I would definitely buy a Ford, of course I know that’s an American brand, but what % of it is American made I have no Idea. And of course when I go to put gas in this American car, no doubt I am filling it up mostly with imported oil products.

  • J

    For food (except Belgian Beer and some other exotics) I try to keep it not only US grown but MN grown (maybe WI). But for most other things, “US Made” is a misnomer. Yes, it may have been sewn together in the US or bolted together in the US but I guarantee that many of the parts and pieces didn’t originate here.

  • Steve

    not much effort at all-i go for value and quality and it really doesnt matter to me it won’t make my buying decision if it is us or foreign. the way the economy is a global one at that us made doesnt mean quality!

  • Steve the Cynic

    On the other hand, buying foreign-made products employs workers in poor countries who might otherwise be subsisting on less than $2/day and thus helps reduce global poverty. Maybe if we all bought more stuff made in Mexico and helped raise their standard of living, those hordes of illegal immigrants would stay home. Maybe if workers in SE Asia, Africa and South America became less poor they’d have more time to be politically involved and install better governments over themselves. Maybe, if we were seen as the world’s best customer, instead of the world’s biggest bully, we’d make more friends than enemies and would be able to spend less on “defense” and national security.

  • Chris

    We try hard to buy American as much as we can. Clothing is the hardest, but I am saving for my first Wintergreen Jacket (Ely, MN) in prep for winter. I have had a really hard time finding sandles/shoes that were made in America. Chaco’s aren’t made in the US anymore even though they use to brag about that. I will have to look into New Balance and Red Wing.

    My question is how much have people realized it is important to buy American since the recession? I know it is way more important to me now than it was a couple years ago.

  • Steve

    not much effort at all-i go for value and quality and it really doesnt matter to me it won’t make my buying decision if it is us or foreign. the way the economy is a global one at that us made doesnt mean quality!

  • Chuck P

    I will hold off on making a purchase until I find a comparable American made product, as much as practicable. Many times I pay more for the product, when I can afford to do so, however, it is difficult for larger ticket items to accomplish the goal of buying American, with the exception of sticking to American automobiles almost exclusively.

  • Chris

    I will buy products made in the USA and at best companies located in the USA every chance I can. However, it is almost impossible to find products made in the USA!! It is hard to chase down USA made products, how many products are imported to USA and then assembled, I am not sure that counts. It is important that we support our own economy and jobs but made in the USA seems hard to find and most people want it now and cheap so they will buy what ever is in front of us that is what keeps companies like WalMart in business.

  • James

    MADE IN THE U.S.A. is a priority in my work and personal purchases. If we as Americans do not buy American made products we will all be asking “Would you like fries with that?”

    The poisoned, under priced, forced child labor, products MADE IN PRC (Peoples Republic of China—- yes they are still communist) needs to be taxed / tariff to a point to make them less appealing to the “I’ll by the cheapest product” crowd.

    Also, we as Americans need to strive to make high quality products that consumers are willing to buy at a fare price.

    The cheating, con-artist leaders that screw the workforce to make extravagant profits need to be systematically flogged.

    The tree huggers that force illogical controls and restrictions on industry need to be ignored. I DO NOT believe we need to destroy our environment to produce products – but we do have to produce goods with utmost respect to our environment.


  • Jay

    In a nearly free-market economy such as ours, job creation is in the hands of the consumers. We shouldn’t expect our governments to “create” jobs for us. We speak with our money, and a purchase of locally made goods is a voice in favor of jobs for our fellow citizens.

    I’m a regular public radio listener, and every time there is a story on the economy and jobs, no one ever mentions the idea that buying US-made products will boost US jobs. Instead, government economic stimulus programs seem to be the assumed solution, which essentially forces us to give money to our fellow citizens (with more overhead) that we could have “given” them directly by purchasing their goods. We need to spread this realization. Free markets and democracies don’t run themselves; they require educated participants who vote wisely both at the tills and at the polls.

    A side note to educators and parents: kids need to be taught that making a purchase is about much more than finding the lowest price, that their money encourages growth where they choose to put it, and that quality is just as important as price.

  • Michelle

    I make a 100% effort and buy American (and MN-made when possible) as often as I can. Further, I frequent farmer’s markets and smaller shops in my town to help out my community. It’s possible to get almost anything that you could get at Target from smaller shops; they may be slightly more expensive, but at least the money is going to my community directly, rather than a large corporation who doesn’t need my help to stay afloat during the recession.

  • Matt

    I largely attempt to purchase local and domestic goods. When that’s not an option, I agree with Steve the Cynic on this one.

    If domestic goods aren’t available, I go with products from countries that may still be developing, but appear to be trending in a direction that will make them friendly to the US. Vietnam, Taiwan, India, and Pakitsan for example.

    It seems like the US is spending too much money on products and components from China, and there are too many issues between our two countries for me to trust the majority of their products at the moment.

  • Steve the Cynic

    It’s interesting to read comments by contributors here who usually exproess free-market fundamentalism coming out in favor of the “Buy American” attitude, Do you believe in free markets or not? If you do, what business do you have saying they should only be free within our own country and not in the world as a whole?

  • T

    Definitely. I know who made my bicycle (thanks Matt) and where the USA made tubing came from. I know who grows my food from our CSA (thanks Ben and Erin). I know who has made a good portion of my clothing (some pieces lasting 12-15 years) and still looking “stylish” (thanks various family members). These are all USA products, start to finish. Granted all do not have these opportunities, but you asked;)

  • kennedy

    A free market economy allows me to choose where to spend my money based on my own values. Boycotting lends financial backing to my values.

    I can buy “Made In America” if I choose. And I lean that direction when possible. For me it is most important for items used in preparing or serving food.

  • Andrea K

    It is so hard to buy American. I’ve gone to numerous hardware stores trying to find American tools. I was blown away when I saw a bunch of hoes, rakes etc. by Ames, with the slogan “We Built America” emblazoned on them.

    ALL were made in China.

    I have nothing against foreign workers, but the oil used in shipping, the destruction of American production capacities… things have gone way over the line. People need jobs.

    People have gotten used to the crazily low prices that have come from decades of importing stuff made in sweatshops. I was at the corner store and bought a Libman broom, it was $10 and made in America. That was $5 more than the made in China competitor. Ten bucks is reasonable for a broom!

  • thomas

    I work really hard to buy made in America products. If all the selections are made in China I just get along without the product. I will always reject anything I would put into my mouth (food, toothpaste) if it is made in China. Labeling is getting a little fuzzy. When something is labeled “distributed by ABC Company” from Denver, Colorado, I’m not sure where it comes from. I also object to transporting products half way around the world when they could be made here. Companies which take their production from here to China also get on my list of bad guys. This is actually saving me a lot of money…..not because of cheaper products,but because I go without.

  • Jordan

    Buying ‘American Made’ products only is unpatriotic. Our country is made and thrives on the free market. Segregating the items you purchase based not on the quality and value but where the items come from ruin how a capitalistic economy works.

    If you buy American because it’s made in the USA, they have no reason to make the product better or compete because they’ll always be made in the USA, if it’s a pile of crap or not.

  • Rick

    I always try to buy American made, not because I’m a patriot but because it is always better quality. It may cost more but it will last at least twice as long.

  • David Poretti

    I try to buy American whenever I can. I try to buy local whenever I can. I try to buy union whenever I can. This means not shopping at chain stores, not eating in chain restaurants. This gives me some assurance of fair wages and ethical treatment for employees. If I pay 10% or 25% more than the no-OSHA, no –EPA, no-minimum wage import would have cost, so be it. I am helping keep my neighbors employed…

  • Nancy

    The company where I work is sending our jobs to India and the Phillpines. I now always try to buy things made in America. I want to stay employed, I want other Americans to stay employed. The next car I buy will be made in America. Keep your job and buy American made products.

  • Sue de Nim

    I bought my first car in the mid-1980s. It was Japanese. At the time, everything Detroit was making was inferior in quality. American car manufacturers now make much better products. If it were not for people buying foreign cars in the ’80, Detroit would have had no incentive to make the improvements they did.

  • Anna

    None. I think it’s an antiquated idea that you could buy much of anything that is truly only American made. I find the metric of labor practices and human rights to be much more informative when making product choices – especially regarding their source.

  • C F

    Even though it seems everything is made in China, American cigarettes are still the best in the world.

  • RobR

    We buy whatever is cheapest these days, irreguardless of where it is made. We have no play around money for anything but the neccesities so cannot piddle around with labels. If US manufucturers wanna be the cheapest price absolutely no reason why they could not be.

  • Kevin

    I always try to find US made material and products.

    But its becoming increasingly hard.

    What I look hardest for is customer support that is US Based, not India/china/where ever based….

  • Ken

    I try to always purchase items that are made in the USA. Having purchased items from outside the USA that are substandard in multiple areas I have found items desinged and manufactured in the USA are superior in quality and design.

    The economic activity supported by purchasing goods made in the USA is of the utmost importance too. Supporting the economy within the USA is in the best interest of all individuals in this country.

  • Carolw

    I do try to buy American, but also to buy responsibly. Buying anything is like voting. I do not shop at Walmart, no matter how cheap it is. I buy at farmer’s markets to support local business. Where you buy (and what you buy) is incredibly important! I will buy foreign if it is supporting a good cause or promoting sustainable agriculture, or economic independence.

  • Pete

    Personally, I do believe in the free market and support the economic theory that goods and services should be produced at the place where they can be produced the most efficiently.

    Of course I may be accused therefore of supporting unethical production practices. I do not.

    However, is it ethical to deny a living to a workers in other countries based on a generalized supposition that the labor is probably forced (or child labor, or whatever) ?

    If I knew that a particular product was made using slave labor (for example), no, I would not buy it. But I worked for an international aid organization that paid laborers in Afghanistan $1.50 per day for building roads. Is that unethical too?

    And what about families in poor countries who cannot survive financially without their children working? Do we Americans know better? Do we help those families by denying them the chance to make a living?

    I have recently learned in my graduate studies that Wal-mart (a corporation routinely vilified) performs over 10,000 audits a year of its supplier factories to prevent abusive practices. These factories sometimes engage in deceptive practices (such as falsifying payroll records) to prevent detection. While I think Wal-mart could be more effective in countering these deceptive practices, when do you ever hear anyone give the company credit for what they are doing right?

    I believe in the end, a free market will tend to balance out. Work that can be done most effectively in the US will continue to be, and work that can most effectively be done in other countries will move there. No, a free market is not perfect…and never will be. But I think it’s a good starting point.

  • Sidney Vaught

    American companies have outsourced to foreign countries to the point it seems the only thing we’re making in the U.S.A. are hamburgers and that is a shame.

    Then people sit back in their chairs at home in their shirts made in Pakistan wondering why the American economy is in the toilet.

    When you buy items such as clothes that were made in a foreign country, you are taking jobs away from American workers. Too many American manufacturer workers have been laid off in the past 10 years.

    Frankly, I don’t care about putting foreign workers out of work, I care more about putting Americans back to work.

    I have now pledged to only buy American made clothing from sources that I know are really American made. No Saipan made products for me. I know I’ll pay more but I believe the clothes will be of better quality and I choose to help stimulate America’s economy and not India’s or any other country’s for that matter.