What does it mean to Make It In America? A look at Factoryless Goods Production and Global Value Chains
Some policymakers lament that American manufacturing is on the decline, and they promote policies to “bring manufacturing jobs back” to the United States. Meanwhile, many U.S. manufacturing firms now commonly control the production process, innovate and own the associated intellectual property, and bear the entrepreneurial risk, but outsource the actual fabrication of products, often to offshore locations. This approach to manufacturing is known as factoryless goods production (FGP) and is part of global value chains (GVC). While FGP plays a critical role in bringing manufactured goods to market, FGP is not recorded as manufacturing under current statistics. Moreover, the contribution of the FGP and GVC activity to the U.S. economy is quite difficult to assess in our current statistical system. What do these terms mean, and how is their evolution impacting U.S. jobs? How do these trends affect the future vitality of the U.S. economy, U.S. manufacturing, and American workers? This panel of experts will discuss the FGP and GVC phenomena and how policymakers and statisticians should respond.