Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 6th Dec 2012 17:01 UTC
Apple So, Apple is serious about this thing. Tim Cook has said in an interview the company plans to manufacture one line of Macs in the US, starting next year. Coincidentally (or not?), Foxconn has just announced it plans to expand its production facilities... Into the United States. There's no indication as of yet that the two are linked, but the coincidence is at least interesting.
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Devil in the details
by earksiinni on Thu 6th Dec 2012 20:59 UTC
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When Obama once asked Steve Jobs how to bring back manufacturing to the U.S., Jobs said "those jobs are never coming back." More than wage differences, the real reason for the loss of manufacturing* in America is because there aren't enough Americans with the necessary skills nor does the requisite infrastructure exist.

So before we hail this announcement, let's consider one particularly noxious possibility: Foxconn moves its factories and workers to the U.S. AFAIK, to get a work visa the job must be advertised and no qualified American must apply for the job. Companies usually get around this by creating extremely particular job descriptions that match the particular foreign candidate that they've decided to hire beforehand. In the case of Foxconn/a potential wave of consumer tech manufacturing insourcing, who's to say that they won't just bring in tons of Chinese workers, since after all everyone is claiming that there aren't enough Americans to do the job? I don't know about Taiwanese practices/law regarding Taiwanese multinationals, but Chinese companies do precisely this all over Africa: big material, infrastructural, and financial investment, but relatively few jobs as Chinese workers are sent in to do everything.

I admit that seeing Chinese factory towns in Kansas sounds far fetched (racism, if nothing else, will prevent that), but we already employ (and ghettoize) Mexicans by the millions. And certainly throughout history, American industry was built on the backs of immigrants packed into factory towns throughout the country. The difference was that those manufacturing jobs were low-skill. This means that they could be taught quickly thanks to the assembly line. It also means that much labor was required. If Foxconn sets up factories in the US, I'm guessing that 1) they will be high-productivity, non-labor intensive affairs, and 2) they will be high-skill enough that they might be able to get away with mostly hiring foreign workers.

*It must be noted that under Obama manufacturing has rebounded and is one of the growing sectors of the economy.

EDIT: The commenter above me posted just as I was writing mine =)

Edited 2012-12-06 21:00 UTC

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