Bringing Jobs Back to U.S. Is Bruising Task

Link to the article

Hi Everyone,

Here a link to a good article that illustrates some implications of globalization movement – destruction of manufacturing jobs in the United States. The article describes two manufacturing companies (Stanley Furniture Co. & Chesapeake Bay Candle) that have struggled when they moved their manufacturing operations back to the United States. Specifically, both companies suffered financially due to a difficulty finding and retaining skilled workers in the US and problems with suppliers who have shifted most of their attention to exporting American-grown hardwoods to furniture factories in the Far East.

According to Ms. Xu from Chesapeake Bay, “We have people struggling with math,” she says. “Not middle-school math, elementary-school math. And this includes the supervisors—not just the line workers.”

In addition, consumers are no longer willing to pay a hefty premium for American-made products and cheaper imports are preferred. Although I strongly support globalization movement, it’s troubling that small businesses that want to bring their operations back home get crushed by this globalization force. It seems that the globalization trend has completely destroyed manufacturing sector, which is unlikely to be reversed, in the United States.


2 thoughts on “Bringing Jobs Back to U.S. Is Bruising Task

  1. 1. It’s a myth that there is a shortage of skilled workers. This has been debunked. Any time there is a shortage of labor you would expect to see wages in that area rise. But it hasn’t happened in STEM and it hasn’t happened in manufacturing. The myth of skilled STEM and manufacturing workers is a Chamber of Commerce ploy to justify outsourcing.

    2. They’re charging $800 for cribs in the middle of a recession. Meanwhile, the price tag is independent of their labor costs (“One set of new machinery allowed the plant to do work once done by 42 workers with just nine employees”). So their failure to turn a profit using machines and a skeleton crew is more of a byproduct of poor management/getting ripped off on the machinery cost than anything having to do with labor/regulations. Meanwhile, the factory guys get laid off and the managers who truly dropped the ball get to work elsewhere.

    3. “Our biggest problem is the employment issue” – I’m not buying it. I bet they are paying fast food wages and they expect $15/hour employees. You get what you pay for. And what about on the job training? And they don’t have calculators in this factory for those who struggle in math? Did the demographics of manufacturing labor change so drastically from the 1950s to today? American workers all got dumber even though the Flynn effect suggests the converse?

  2. I wish we took notice of this article prior to the globalization debate yesterday. I believe we are better able to evaluate the issues after yesterday’s class. Thank you Jacob

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