News / USA

US Jobs Coming Home?

A worker sews clothes at the Karen Kane clothing company in Los Angeles, California, Jun. 30, 2011. The Los Angeles apparel industry is riding a small but growing wave of incoming jobs as costs in China and India rise.
A worker sews clothes at the Karen Kane clothing company in Los Angeles, California, Jun. 30, 2011. The Los Angeles apparel industry is riding a small but growing wave of incoming jobs as costs in China and India rise.
Something strange is happening to the international labor market. Soaring costs and a changing labor environment in Asia have brought back American jobs that moved overseas in recent years. But experts warn that those returning jobs are small in number, and that American companies are still basing the bulk of their production abroad.

Several leading U.S. companies have announced plans to bring back highly skilled jobs from overseas, expand existing U.S. factories or build new ones. The reasons, they say, are increasing regulations, slower demand, a shortage of skilled labor and significant salary hikes throughout Asia.
 
Some of the firms bringing back jobs to the US:

Apple: Investing $100 million, bringing back 200 jobs
General Motors: Building a $258 data center in Colorado; plans to hire fewer than 10,000 workers
Oracle:  Restoring 130 jobs from Mexico, retaining 300 in Oregon
Chrysler: Investing $374 million in transmission factories, bringing back 1,250 jobs to Indiana
General Electric: Relocating one of its facilities to Georgia, bringing back 400 jobs
Ford: Investing $200 million, adding 450 jobs in Ohio; moving production from a Mexico facility to Michigan, plans to add 12,000 U.S. jobs by 2016
In China, factory wages jumped 18.9 percent in 2011 and 20 percent last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. It projects an increase by more than 9 percent this year.
 
And China is not the only nation reporting such increases. India is expected to post wage increases of more than 10 percent this year, the Philippines 7.3 percent and Malaysia six percent, according to Aonl-Hewitt, a global consulting firm.
 
Typically, companies relocating jobs are multi-national firms that are moving “around the margin,” said Andy Tsay, chief of the Operations Management and Information Systems department at Santa Clara University in California.
 
These companies, he said, make their decisions based on a variety of factors, including the cost of labor, fuel, land and equipment, the proximity of customers and suppliers, the complexity of the product, and the scarcity of skilled labor.
 
“If you hold all of them equal and … lower the cost of labor in one place, then yeah, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of the jobs go,” Tsay said.
 
But Alan Tonelson, a scholar with the Washington-based U.S. Business & Industry Council, said there is another important factor – the “very substantial payments and tax breaks from state and local governments.” This, he said, is enticing many companies to bring jobs back to the United States, set up new factories or expand old ones. 
 
“That certainly sends signals to companies that it’s going to be a favorable climate for producing in the United States,” added Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
 
Even so, the local and state tax breaks haven't resulted in an avalanche of jobs returning to the U.S.
 
One reason is that many modern products are made up of parts made in a variety of countries.
 
Employees work at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Aug. 31, 2012.Employees work at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Aug. 31, 2012.
x
Employees work at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Aug. 31, 2012.
Employees work at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Aug. 31, 2012.
A case in point is U.S. High tech giant Apple, which plans to invest $100 million to manufacture one of its product lines, the iMac desktop computer, in the United States, thereby creating about 200 jobs. But the company’s basic components manufacturer, Foxconn, continues to operate in China with more than a million workers. 
 
To make a tangible contribution, said Santa Clara University's Tsay, the entire overseas component ecosystem would have to move back to the U.S., along with dozens of companies and the educational system needed to provide them with the people with the right skills.
 
Short of that, the impact of the incoming jobs on employment or economic growth in the U.S. will be negligible, according to both Tsay and Paul.
 
U.S. manufacturers added 14,000 jobs in February, according to U.S. labor statistics. But experts such as Tonelson noted that the manufacturing sector is still about three percent smaller than it was at the end of 2007.
 
“It’s a little bit too early to say that we are seeing some major trends,” said Tsay.
 
Moving jobs from one continent to another is an expensive undertaking, Paul added, because it could require establishing factories and investing in equipment.
 
But he was optimistic that more jobs might come back five years from now due to lower U.S. energy costs, rising wages abroad, shifting currency exchange rates and intellectual property theft challenges in Asia.
 
“If you look at cost factors over the coming decade,” Paul said, “I think that you see the United States becoming even more cost-competitive.”

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More