Is There Substance In Walmart’s ‘Made In America’ Pledges?

Unfortunately for manufacturers, Walmart's promises and declarations are mostly empty.

This past week, Walmart announced some big “Made in America” promises, including addressing ways to support American jobs, stocking more domestic products and new grants. Unfortunately for manufacturers, the promises and declarations are mostly empty.

“Sure, Walmart is spending a big chunk of change on American-made products,” says the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “Where are the rest of the goods on its shelves coming from? Does Walmart deserve a round of applause (that it started itself) for cozying up to the ‘Made in America’ movement?”

To answer their questions — and ours — AAM addressed some of the facts and figures of Walmart’s new “Made in America” initiative to give it some context and sweep away the distracting bows and ribbons.

According to Walmart, they will be purchasing $250 billion in domestic products to support American jobs by 2023. However, on the other hand, Walmart also committed to importing 731,500 shipping containers filled with foreign goods in 2013 alone.  

Walmart also announced that 2/3 of products in the U.S. store are made, sourced, assembled or grown in the U.S. Unfortunately, AAM had something to say about this as well. “2/3 of what Walmart classifies as American-made goods are actually groceries and not manufactured products,” explains AAM.

“An estimated 1 million new U.S. jobs will be created through this initiative — direct manufacturing job growth of about 250,000 and about 750,000 in the support and service sectors,” declares Walmart. But in context with the amount of jobs Walmart also outsources these numbers begin to lose their shine. According the Economic Policy Institute, 2.7 million U.S. jobs have been lost due to imports from China — 2.1 million of them are manufacturing jobs.

Finally, Walmart promised that $10 million in grants will be awarded over the next five years, and $4 million of it will be awarded in the first year alone. But AAM isn’t buying that either in the context of Walmart’s profits. According to the association, “Walmart Store made $3.9 trillion in net sales over the past ten years and 5 percent of net sales is all that Walmart pledged to spend on American-made goods in a single year.”

So while it is commendable that Walmart is making an effort, in the greater context of their business, it seems to fall short. To read more about Walmart, and AAM’s analysis of their data check out this fact sheet.