Home decor arrives on Capitol Hill Tuesday, when Newell Turner, editor-in-chief of House Beautiful, and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) will hold a Washington press conference to encourage consumers to buy American-made home products in order to stimulate the economy and boost job growth.
Though 227,000 jobs were added to the economy in February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate still stands at a staggering 8.3 percent. Turner, Hagan and leading members of the furniture manufacturing industry hope to expand the American-made home furnishings business to create more U.S. jobs. Worldwide, home decor is a multibillion-dollar market.
The domestic furniture industry itself is relatively small, but Hagan says it has a notable impact on American jobs, especially in her home state of North Carolina.
"Our state has a rich history in the furniture industry, and I am working to do everything I can to support and keep those jobs here in America," Hagan tells Stylelist Home in an email. "Many Americans buy American products as a way to support our economy as it recovers, and furniture is no exception."
"There's no better time than ever to promote American industries," Turner says. Moreover, he adds, "There's nothing more important than creating a home that makes you feel good and safe."
To strengthen his call for American support of domestic products, Turner is planning to discuss the findings of a new survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, which questioned 1,000 adults about their furniture preferences and shopping habits. Some 91 percent of participants said they would choose to buy American-made furniture over products manufactured abroad. However, almost half of those surveyed either had recently bought foreign-made products or were unsure of their purchased item's origin. These findings suggest there is huge potential for growth for the American furniture industry.
With international retailers like IKEA offering competitive low prices, we understand why buyers might still opt for non-American-made products. Plus, international retailers employ a substantial number of U.S. workers. But Turner says there are affordable options made right here in the United States.
Additionally, there is the "strong unquestioning level of quality" of American furniture ensured by federal safety regulations, Turner argues, noting that even the Chinese want American-made furniture "because they know the quality is guaranteed."
If the quality and accessibility of American furniture have not persuaded you, there's also the environment to consider. "From a green perspective, you're lowering the carbon footprint of things," Turner says because U.S.-made furniture doesn't have to travel as far to your home.
Turner's efforts for American-made furniture don't end with the Tuesday press conference. The April issue of House Beautiful features the growing furniture and design sector in Southern California, with brands like Cisco Brothers, Elite Leather and William Haines Designs (the company founded by a former silent movie actor) shipping products across the country.
Although we agree that buying American-made anything is important to our economy, we believe the largest obstacle to buying locally remains the price. Budget is often the single biggest factor when it comes to choosing furniture. So although we may want the gorgeous coffee table handcrafted in California and made with locally harvested wood, if our budget doesn't allow it, we may just stick to our $20 Ikea Lack table ... for now.