We all like to blame manufacturers for outsourcing parts and actually building facilities out of the country. Whatever policies allow us to bring imported goods into the country at pricing we can't compete with has to be the key component in this imbalance. I'm no economist but I don't think the rest of the world have roads filled with American cars, for instance. It's not that we don't make good vehicles; it has to be more than that. This disparity is fueled by many factors. Labor unions do their part to keep us disadvantaged but they can't do it alone.
Seems there was a trend in the 60s through the 80s that began giving employees generous retirement packages. Before the failure of General Motors it was estimated that for every two current employees there were five receiving retirement pay. The same is true for government agencies like police departments, road commissions, and etc. This establishing of retirement packages worked just fine until people actually began retiring. It's not emphasized in the media but most retired government employees receive 60% to 80% of their average salaries for life after retiring and folks live longer than ever.
A problem was created when this practice of furnishing retirement packages began but you can't blame those getting this pay for enjoying it. The outdated line of thought that you needed to save your whole life to afford surviving your elderly years has become, well......., outdated.
Phoenix Arizona has 523 government employees making a six figured salary. It doesn't take terrific math to understand the problem this will be when you must pay all these people 60% to 80% of a salary that will grow every year with cost of living raises. Not only must you pay them but they're generally replaced by another employee to refurbish the cycle.
In all fairness, we can't place all the blame on trade agreements and labor unions. In the United States we've enjoyed a standard of living not generally experienced elsewhere. Blaming other countries for our woes is an exercise in futility. The businessmen there operate as successfully as possible as do our domestic company owners. China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, India and literally all industrialized societies do the best they can. We've somehow allowed this situation to reach a point that it's difficult to find many American made items in most stores.
I have no clue as to the language or legal complexities of these trade agreements, but much to the chagrin of the countries we deal with, they'll need revision to rescue us from this imbalance. The failure of the financial and insurance institutions along with the automobile manufacturers may have pushed us over the edge, but we were already aimed in that direction.
Hope we've got sturdy bootstraps!