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.
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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs