It’s Time for a Repair Jobs Revolution
Fostering repair will give people access to affordable products, make a huge dent in the e-waste problem, and create jobs.
Repair jobs can’t be outsourced—who would ship a washing machine from Chicago to Shanghai for repairs?
Fixing our out-of-use electronics will employ people and bridge the digital divide.
It’s already starting: Patagonia employs seamstresses to repair their clothes—in the USA!
Unemployment wastes good workers
“Mass joblessness is a shameful waste of human resources… and now threatens to create an underclass of long-term unemployed whose skills are atrophying.”
—Economist Alan Blinder
Repair Manuals are Essential
Products are designed in the US and Europe.
They’re manufactured by legions of workers in Asia.
Repair shops in Asia thrive on the information shared by those manufacturers.
Repair workers are struggling because they don’t have the information they need.
Repair jobs are local jobs.
Industrialized countries worry about their skilled jobs getting sent overseas, where there are fewer labor restrictions and workers with lower wage expectations.
But while jobs keep slipping overseas, repair jobs are not offshorable. These jobs are skilled, well paid, and continually in demand. Our stuff is here! We need people here that can fix it.
25% of jobs at risk
Economists Alan Blinder and Alan Kreuger say 25% of US jobs are "offshorable"—but repair jobs aren’t.
Respect the trades
Manual jobs are critical to our economic future—these jobs are skilled, stable, and in demand.
62x more stable
Manufacturing jobs are 62 times more likely to be offshored than installation, maintenance, and repair jobs.
Repair jobs are growing.
Thousands of locally owned and operated smartphone repair shops have popped up in the last few years.
The electronics and computer repair industry in the United States supports 56,625 small businesses that employ 143,637 people, for a total of $19 billion in annual revenue.
That’s huge: if all those businesses were put together, they would be bigger than AMD, MSI, and EA combined.
Let’s bring back the trades.
“We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist. That’s nuts.”
iFixit’s open source electronics repair manuals have sparked a resurgence of local electronics repair shops.
Out-of-use electronics could help bridge the digital divide.
Training new repair techs wouldn’t just create jobs—it could help get expensive technology into the hands of people who need it. There are approximately 5 million tons of out-of-use electronics around America that haven't made it to recyclers.
Meanwhile, the digital divide isn’t shrinking as fast as everyone predicted: 23% of households do not have an internet connection.
We get letters every day from people who have started their own successful repair businesses.
Owen Cunneely started his own business fixing laptops and iPhones when he was just a teenager. Robert Litt teaches students to repair electronics and simultaneously equips classrooms with desperately-needed, inexpensive electronics.
"Discarded computers are our nation’s most wasted educational resource." —Robert Litt
It’s time to fix our economy.
Let’s train up an army of mechanics and technicians and make repair a backstop of our local economy.
Market research report on electronics repair businesses in the USA.
Bridging the digital divide starts right here at home.
Read inspirational success stories.