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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs