It is hard to tell which way is up these days with US Manufacturing. Manufacturing is making a comeback or, Manufacturing is all but lost to China, depends on who you ask. You hear a lot of talk from politicians, but it is an election year. Does that talk go away once the election is over, or have we started a new conversation in America ?
If you think all is lost, you need look no further than this piece in the New York Times about Apple and iPhone Manufacturing, How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work.
“In mid-2007, after a month of experimentation, Apple’s engineers finally perfected a method for cutting strengthened glass so it could be used in the iPhone’s screen. The first truckloads of cut glass arrived at Foxconn City (China) in the dead of night, according to the former Apple executive. That’s when managers woke thousands of workers, who crawled into their uniforms — white and black shirts for men, red for women — and quickly lined up to assemble, by hand, the phones. Within three months, Apple had sold one million iPhones. Since then, Foxconn has assembled over 200 million more.”
“Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.”
Or take a look at this piece in the Washington Post, U.S. losing high-tech manufacturing jobs to Asia.
“The United States lost more than a quarter of its high-tech manufacturing jobs during the past decade as U.S.-based multinational companies placed a growing percentage of their research-and-development operations overseas, the National Science Board reported Tuesday.
The rapid expansion of science and engineering capabilities in China and its neighbors pose a more formidable economic challenge to the United States, according to the group, with Asia rapidly boosting the number of engineering doctorates it produces and research dollars it spends.”
But there are a large number of positive stories out there as well. The New York Times also ran this story, Manufacturing Is Surprising Bright Spot in U.S. Economy.
“For the first time in many years, manufacturing stands out as an area of strength in the American economy.
When the Labor Department reports December employment numbers on Friday, it is expected that manufacturing companies will have added jobs in two consecutive years. “
“The new third shifts, adding more than 4,300 jobs in four states at GM alone, bring jobs to the economy and revenue to governments as well as demand at odd hours for everything from daycare and dentistry to financial services and food.”
US Factory Output Surges in December. “Industrial output is now less than 5% below its pre-recession peak, reached in September 2007. It has increased more than 14% since hitting a recession low in June 2009.” President Obama wants to promote US Production,
“Among the new initiatives Obama is seeking to promote is a greater emphasis on American manufacturing, homegrown energy sources and worker training.”
Time will tell which way we are headed, what do you think?