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.

Local jobs

Local jobs

Repair jobs can’t be outsourced—who would ship a washing machine from Chicago to Shanghai for repairs?

Digital bridges

Digital bridges

Fixing our out-of-use electronics will employ people and bridge the digital divide.

60 seamstresses

60 seamstresses

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

For every 1000 tons of electronics…

Landfilling creates > 1 job

Landfilling

creates < 1 job

Recycling creates 15 jobs

Recycling

creates 15 jobs

Repair creates 200 jobs

Repair

creates 200 jobs

Repair Manuals are Essential

Products are designed in the US and Europe.

Products are designed in the US and Europe.

They’re manufactured by legions of workers in Asia.

They’re manufactured by legions of workers in Asia.

Repair shops in Asia thrive on the information shared by those manufacturers.

Repair shops in Asia thrive on the information shared by those manufacturers.

Repair workers in the US and Europe are struggling because they don’t have the information they need.

Repair workers in the US and Europe are struggling because they don’t have the information they need.

Repair jobs are local jobs.

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 American jobs keep slipping overseas, repair jobs are not offshorable. These jobs are skilled, well paid, and continually in demand. Our stuff is here! That stuff will eventually break, and we will always need people to fix it.

Repair is an opportunity.

5 million tons

5 million tons

of out-of-use electronics are piling up in America.

23%

23%

of shredded electronics could be easily repaired or refurbished.

250,000 jobs

250,000 jobs

would be created by repairing 23% of our out-of-use electronics.

29% of jobs at risk

29% of jobs at risk

Economist Alan Blinder says 29% of US jobs are "offshorable"—but repair jobs aren’t.

Respect the trades

Respect the trades

Manual jobs are critical to our economic future—these jobs are skilled, stable, and in demand.

Stop recycling

Stop recycling

Repairing electronics creates 13 times more jobs than recycling them.

Repair jobs are growing.

Repair jobs are growing.

Few businesses continue to grow in a down economy—but repair does! More and more, people are trying to make the most out of the stuff they already own.

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 60,000 small businesses that employ 175,000 people, for a total of $21 billion in annual revenue.

That’s huge: if all those businesses were put together, they would be bigger than Barnes & Noble, Mattel, and MasterCard 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.”

Mike Rowe

iFixit’s open source electronics repair manuals have sparked a resurgence of local electronics repair shops. New smartphone repair businesses started in the last few years are already employing tens of thousands of people.

Out-of-use electronics could help bridge the digital divide.

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 5 million tons of out-of-use electronics neglected in garages, junk drawers, and storage units around America.

Meanwhile, the digital divide isn’t shrinking as fast as everyone predicted: 60% of American households making under $30,000 per year still do not have broadband access at home—many because they cannot afford a desktop computer.

The only thing standing between many of those out-of-use computers and a needy low-income owner is a little bit of repair: replacing a 5-cent blown capacitor, swapping out a faulty RAM chip, or reflowing the solder on an ageing circuit board.

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 local again.

Learn More

Market research report on electronics and computer repair businesses in the USA.

Bridging the digital divide.

Repair success stories.

Take Action

Start your own repair business!

Take something apart with your son or daughter. Teach them that what's broken can be fixed.

Support your local repair shops.