Here’s a Way We Can Help the Economy: Buy Stuff Made in the USA

Trivia question: For the 2012 model year, which motor vehicle model uses the highest percentage of North American labor? (Note: This is a trick question)

Toyota Avalon – made in USA (mostly)

According to Todd Lipscomb of, that would be the Toyota Avalon, with 85 percent of its labor occurring in North America*. Say what? Hey, why not? After all, most U.S. flags are made overseas, aren’t they? So why wouldn’t foreign automakers make stuff, or buy parts, here in order to save on supply chain costs? Globalization means just that – anything can come from anywhere in the world.

Wondering which American vehicle brands include the most North American labor? They would be the Chevy Express Van and GMC Savana at 82 percent, the Chevy Impala,

2012 Chevy Express

Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator at 80 percent. But Honda’s Accord and Crosstour use that percentage as well. Using between 79 and 77 percent North American labor are the Chrysler 200 convertible and Chrysler’s two large minivans (an oxymoron if ever I wrote one).

The point is this; a lot of American-made stuff is at best mostly made in America. The Consumer Gal and I recently bought a set of Tramontina made-in-America pans at Costco. So far, we really like the pans. Tramontina USA is located in Texas. It makes its cookware in Wisconsin. Its parent company is in . . . Brazil. So while the manufacturing jobs are in Wisconsin, and the office jobs are in Texas, the profits go to Brazil. This is the definition of globalization.

As far as I am concerned, the most important aspect of this is where the jobs are, especially in this economy.

A few years ago I got a call from Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. Unable to answer the trivia question on their Live! TV show, I received a set of All-Clad cookware. It’s made in Pennsylvania. But the package did not say “Made in USA.” Why? Because the handles are made elsewhere and the Federal Trade Commission requires that almost all – as in 95 percent – of a product’s value must have been created in this country in order for it to wear the Made in USA label. So, the Pennsylvania cookware is not “Made in USA,” while the Brazilian cookware is.

We recently bought a memory foam mattress topper that was made in the America and put it on top of our new memory foam mattress that came from Southern California but, alas, we soon learned, came from China.

What to do? Well, if you give a rat’s behind about where stuff is made, read the labels. Appliances, for instance, are often made here. Whirlpool, Maytag and Kitchen Aid, all from Whirlpool Corporation, are mostly made here, (with the exclusion of all their microwave ovens). Some Fisher and Paykel (a New Zealand company) laundry appliances are made here, along with the upscale Viking, Wolf and Sub-Zero brands.

If you are looking for American-made products, here are some sites to try:

As for me, the next time I need jeans (or dungarees, as we used to call them) I’m going to bypass Costco’s 14-dollar pants and try a pair of Texas Jeans, made, ironically, in North Carolina. And I’ll be happy to spend 30 buckaroos on them.

Sometimes patriotism comes at a (retail) price.

Happy shopping.


*I use North America instead of just the United States as a criterion since Mexico and Canada have no auto industries of their own, U.S. automakers do some assembly in those two countries. It’s a matter of, “since you buy our cars we’ll do some assembly over the border.” It’s quid pro quo.