That's great for you, but north of you we have shuttered car manufacturing plants. It use to be jobs went to the southern part of USA, then Mexico, and then overseas, on manufacturing in lower cost areas and wages.
I am very familiar with robotics and automation, and that's not accurate. You still have operators overseeing assembly, bar code scanning parts using current controlled DC electric tooling. Controllers need programmed and assembly workers have to monitor assembly; in many cases a part is not released until the tightening sequences are followed. Also it gets tiring reading the grandpappy comments.
In fact the real issue has been deflected on where the money actually goes. If you look at the country as a whole, manufacturing has suffered in America. I have personally seen manufacturing going overseas for lower cost labor at the expense of the domestic workforce, not automation.
Oh, so now we're talking about whether a car or truck is made in a specific region? I thought the argument was whether the product(s) were made in the USA. If it's made in the Southern US, then that means it's made in the US.
Go back and read comment 17:33. It says it all. People DO care about products besides just cars (which are very big ticket items and make a HUGE difference in the economy). You can find virtually any product you need made by an American company. And yes, that includes appliances. Our 30-year-old American made washer and dryer still work flawlessly. I don't even know if they sell imported washers and dryers. It wouldn't matter, as I'd never buy one.
Study the manufacturing growth since 1950 on comment 09:29. Better yet, examine it over the past 20 years. Look at the entire country and how many shifts are in operation, if at all, as far as domestics vs imports. I live in the Northeast, and we recently lost GM and Chrysler in my state. If they actually do start a new Fisker plant, I cannot imagine it is going to offset what was here. I guess a lot of people will want a 100k hybrid Fisker sports car, vs a Pontiac Solstice 4 cylinder sports car that was a lot less expensive, that closed up. The work force hired will not equal what this site had as GM. The Chrysler plant is gone too.
Your 1950 car has more welds than a modern car. The reason being is with the increased usage of molds and plastics, that conform better to a modern day vehicle, as well as to reduce weight.
Operators are also faced with assembling more complex electronic assemblies than ever. There is an effect; far less metal to weld than cars of the past!
There are an amazing amount of fasteners in all modern cars as well. Operators in modern assembly plants do have air balancers, clamping fixtures and ergonomic arms with tooling attached. These reduce workplace injuries due to weight, as well as minimizing torque reaction. However most have an operator and are done by hand.
Assembly is more complex than ever. You may be the one responsible for a critical torque air bag ground wire or ABS brake component being assembled, as an example. Even multi-spindle tools with 2 or more nutrunners are operator controlled. Obviously as you can tell, I have been in many automotive manufacturing facilities. If you still feel that robotics have taken over automotive or truck assembly, simply drive by a vehicle manufacturing plant and look at large # of cars in the lots. I can assure you they were not driven to work by robots.
Talking about 30-40 year old products made in the USA, doesn't really have much to do with the topic at hand here. Sure - I also have a lot of old American made things in my home as well. I collect antiques, and prefer older American appliances and electronics. Reason being they were better made. I have a 40 year old lawn mower, a 50 year old stove, old lamps, vacuum cleaners, and so on. I don't really care as much about modern items, as so many are often cheaply made and flimsy - regardless of where they're made.
I think why a lot of the US manufacturing ended up as it did, was because during the height of our dominance in that area, we made a huge amount of pedestrian items, and we made them cheaply. We made everything from stamped-together $1 pocket watches with all-stamped metal gears (previously most clocks used hand-machined brass gears), pots, pans, socks, cars, TV sets, radios, and so on and so on. All using for what at the time were groundbreaking, cost-effective, mass-produced assembly line techniques. We did it cheaper than anyone for decades. Then came much cheaper overseas labor, who in turn could use the same techniques we did, and therefore do it much cheaper, and make the exact same products.
The problem is many US manufacturers tried to compete on price, and therefore make products even cheaper, and in turn - often more shoddily. As a collector, there is a BIG difference between many items made in the USA in the 30's and 40's, and those made in the 80's and 90's: Lots of obvious corner-cutting and overall cheapening of the product, in attempts to compete against cheaper overseas labor.
Instead of focusing on cost, we should have seen the writing on the wall and gone a different direction - which is to say focus on making products that were competitive from a design, engineering, and quality standpoint. Obviously people like to buy expensive products, as seen by the huge amount of luxury brands that seem to do well, even in bad economic times. That way you can have higher labor and production costs, and still manage to make a profit AND at the same time, not be trying to compete with ever-cheaper labor, making ever-cheaper and cheapened items. What's interesting is that if you look at some US manufacturers who decided to do exactly that - which was to focus on high quality and a more upmarket product, many are doing quite well, because people appreciate and demand that type of quality, and will pay for that extra expense.
As far as the previous points regarding automation, the point was that automation (like robots and so on) eliminated a lot of the redundant labor that was required prior. I mentioned I collected antiques. A lot of the radios I have were made on huge assembly lines. People would sit at a long line and solder in a wire here and there, and the next person would solder in a few more, and then afterwards... yet another person soldered in a few more... and so on. If I flip one of these radios over, the undersides look like a cobweb of wires. Sometimes 100's of wires all hand-soldered in place. Now radios are often simply stamped together with machines, and all of those wires have been replaced with printed circuit boards. Sure - you need technicians to work on and maintain robots. But ultimately you don't need the sheer numbers of workers to make things as was once required.
On a positive note, the US is still about the most productive - if not THE most productive country in the world. We make more per person than anywhere else, and even now, are still either the world's top manufacturing country, or at least close to the top of that list, and we do so more efficiently than anyone else.
But it's also important to recognize and realize that we're now in a global economy, and the majority of items - whether we're talking about dishwashers, cars, computers, clothing, or even food, in a lot of those cases it took a global workforce of developers, engineers, parts and component manufacturers, and various international manufacturing facilities to produce and sell that item.