As the President and the Republican candidates release their ideas for job legislation, I would like to offer our own job program for North Carolina. This will not require a lessening of government regulations or a cut in taxes or benefits. It won’t require more government spending, state or federal. It will only require we keeping more of our apparel and manufacturing in North Carolina.
Last year North Carolina became the third largest grower of cotton in the US. We grow it; we gin it; and we spin it. Then we ship the majority of this highly prized resource offshore. Why? Because the manufacturing labor overseas is so much cheaper.
Most of the t-shirts and jeans we buy in our area are made in Central America, where the average apparel labor rate is about $2 an hour. Yes, our jeans and t-shirts are less expensive, but what does cheap mean if you don’t have a job? Since NAFTA, we have lost thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses just in North Carolina to poorly compensated foreign labor.
We can bring some of those jobs back by starting to request, ask, and demand that some of our apparel be made in this country. Before us sits the perfect opportunity to create jobs, growth and economic prosperity in North Carolina, but we must take responsibility for where our apparel dollars are spent.
So please, the next time you make a clothes purchase, look beyond the price and think of your neighbors. Buy American.