By Cara Winkley
Shopping is many girls’ favorite pastimes, and while girls look at style, colors and price when buying clothes, they often neglect to look at where they were made.
Liz Tillhof, a junior studying business at the University of Kansas, took a look through her closet specifically looking at where each piece of clothing was made. She found that out of 40 items of clothing only four were made in the United States.
Outsourcing American jobs to textile industries in other countries has become more and more popular and has raised many concerns. Today, the United States imports 98 percent of its clothing and produces only two percent on American soil, according to ABC News.
The definition of outsourcing is to purchase goods or subcontract services from an outside supplier or source.
While there are advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing, one of the major concerns is loss of American jobs. According to Overdressed, by Elizabeth L. Cline, more than half a million American garment industry jobs were lost between the years 1996 and 2011.
Dan Galindau, an international business professor at the University of Kansas has a positive outlook on outsourcing American jobs.
“Hopefully, as we outsource those low value jobs it allows people to focus more on high value jobs that will pay more; that’s the ideal situation,” Galindau said.
Though outsourcing textile jobs to other countries may decrease jobs in America, it actually helps out the economy. Without outsourcing, companies would have to charge more for their products to cover production costs and fewer consumers would buy them.
“This is true of all countries, as they move up the income and standard of living ladder along the way they have to lose some types of jobs because they are not feasible economically to maintain in country,” Galindau said.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect on January 1, 1994 according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. This agreement eliminated barriers of trade and tariffs on products being imported and exported between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Tailan Chi, a University of Kansas international business professor, said that as a result of NAFTA, the U.S. Labor Department reported that more better-paid jobs were created than lower paid jobs were lost.
International trade between countries allows each country to do whatever they do best. If we didn’t outsource that means we would have to shut ourselves off from international trade, Chi said.
Shutting ourselves off from international trade is less than likely, however, we can take action to improve our textile industry. The answer is found in one simple question.
“How can we develop the textile industry in the U.S. where it is really a value added in terms of either processes, the design, the materials used, or something that brings in value where it doesn’t compete just on price with socks and t-shirts,” Galindau said.
Graphic by Cara Winkley