Made Somewhere Else: The Last American Silverware Factory Has Closed Up Shop

Flatware manufacturing had been part of American industry since Colonial times. Now, unable to compete with Chinese manufacturers, the very last American maker of forks, spoons and knives shut down their factory eight months ago, taking away 80 jobs from the small N.Y. town of Sherrill.

And its not the loss of a single, smalltown factory the NYT is lamenting here. Rather it has become a trend as of late:

Losing an industry or ceasing to manufacture a particular product, in this case stainless steel flatware, has indeed become a fairly frequent event. Just in the last few years, the last sardine cannery, in Maine, closed its doors. Stainless steel rebars, the sturdy rods that reinforce concrete in all kinds of construction, are now no longer made in America. Neither are vending machines or incandescent light bulbs or cellphones or laptop computers.

They also suggest that focusing on design alone cannot drive innovation, and that manufacturing is vital to the process. Is it possible America is exiting its golden era of technological achievement? [NYT]