Third World America: Manufacturing Jobs Return Because U.S. Workers Are Cheaper Now (VIDEO)

The good news? Manufacturing jobs are finally starting to return to the U.S. The bad news? It’s only because those Chinese workers are getting all uppity these days and demanding higher wages and better working conditioners. Now U.S. workers seem so cheap and docile in comparison.

MarketWatch reports manufacturing jobs are returning to our shores in record numbers. Not only are U.S. companies “reshoring” jobs to the U.S., foreign companies are moving their factories here too.

Sixty thousand manufacturing jobs were added in the U.S. in 2014, versus 12,000 in 2003, either through so-called reshoring, in which American companies bring jobs back to the U.S., or foreign direct investment, in which foreign companies move production to the U.S., according to a study from the Reshoring Initiative. In contrast, as many as 50,000 jobs were “offshored” last year, a decline from about 150,000 in 2003.

For the first time in 20 years, we’ve even seen a net gain in manufacturing jobs, to the tune of 10,000. Reshoring Initiative President Harry Moser told MarketWatch:

“The trend in manufacturing in the U.S. is to source domestically. With 3 [million] to 4 million manufacturing jobs still offshore, we see huge potential for even more growth.”

The Reshoring Initiative launched in 2010 with the goal of bringing well-paying manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. A big part of what they do is providing research, case studies, and even a calculator to determine whether it’s worth it for companies to offshore. The advantages to keeping jobs in the U.S. include faster turn-around, lower shipping costs, more flexibility, lower risk of having intellectual property stolen, higher quality and consistency, higher productivity, and being able to put “made in the U.S.A” on your product label.

Thanks to stagnant wages and the GOP, manufacturing’s cheaper in the U.S.

But the real advantage to bringing back jobs to the U.S. is what pundits and politicians celebrating the return of manufacturing jobs to the U.S. don’t want to admit. Thanks to union-busting and extreme right-wing policies, U.S. workers have gotten a lot cheaper. While U.S. wages have remained stagnant for years, China’s wages are increasing by a whopping 8.3 percent per year.

The Economist reports seeing signs of this trend in 2012, when 37 percent of large companies planned to reshore manufacturing jobs from China to the U.S. due to higher labor costs in China.

In a survey of American manufacturing companies by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in April 2012, 37% of those with annual sales above $1 billion said they were planning or actively considering shifting production facilities from China to America. Of the very biggest firms, with sales above $10 billion, 48% came out as reshorers. The most common reason given was higher Chinese labour costs.

Other countries we once saw as sources of cheap labor have also gotten more expensive due to increased labor costs. But thanks to our nation’s Republicans, U.S. workers are now incredibly cheap.

The crucial change that has taken place over the past decade or so is that wages in low-cost countries have soared. According to the International Labour Organisation, real wages in Asia between 2000 and 2008 rose by 7.1-7.8% a year. Pay for senior management in several emerging markets, such as China, Turkey and Brazil, now either matches or exceeds pay in America and Europe, according to a recent study by the Hay Group, a consulting firm.

Last April, 30,000 Chinese workers even went on strike against a Nike factory. Here’s the video.


Manufacturing jobs return to U.S.: Featured photo public domain 1942, Howard R. Hollem via Wikipedia.