The Electronics Industry

The New American, April 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Electronics Industry


From before World War II through the 1970s, the United States' electronics industry was an economic powerhouse. All of the world's most advanced electronics, from consumer to industrial applications, were designed and manufactured in the United States. Firms like GE, Magnavox, Sylvania, Zenith, RCA, and others dominated electronics manufacturing and sales--and the products these companies produced were made in U.S. factories by U.S. workers. Foreign competition began to decimate the industry in the 1980s, but the death knell came with the passage of NAFTA, when even Japanese firms moved production to Mexico. The remaining U.S. producers packed up and went south, taking their high-paying jobs with them.

In 2004, Sen. Joe Lieberman released a report through his Senate office detailing the economic impact of this "offshore outsourcing." The report, prepared by Lieberman staffer Sara E. Hagigh and Mary Jane Bolle of the Congressional Research Service, noted that the trend to move business offshore is still "contributing to historically high levels of unemployment among electronics, software and computer engineers in the United States." The Lieberman report also noted, ominously, that "the loss of R&D infrastructure could have important ramifications for our ability to create high-wage, high-technology jobs in the future. What is at stake is the ability of the United States to remain a global leader in innovation, to maintain high-paying jobs, and to ensure future competitiveness and growth.

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