NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Business

March 9, 2013

Manufacturing industry making a comeback

(Continued)

Some governors in manufacturing states have expressed similar reservations. “We don’t need D.C.’s help,” Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina said in February. “We can do it right by ourselves,” Greenville.com reported.

As foreign firms add jobs in the U.S., some American firms are bringing jobs back from overseas, a phenomenon known as “insourcing.”

Ford is bringing back 1,000 jobs from Japan and Mexico to Michigan and Ohio. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan to Georgia. And Apple has promised to start making Mac computers in the U.S., though it hasn’t said where. Numerous states are eager to host Apple, which is so profitable that if the iPad became a stand-alone business, it would be the 11th largest U.S. tech company, Forbes reported.

Higher wages in China also contribute to what The Atlantic recently called an “insourcing boom.”

But even with those new jobs, just under 12 million Americans work in manufacturing, down from a peak of 19.6 million in 1979. The president acknowledges that some of those jobs will never return. “We’re not going to bring back every job that’s been lost to outsourcing and automation over the last decade,” Obama told workers at Linamar Corp. in North Carolina, where he touted his plan.

For some manufacturers, the problem now is finding enough U.S. workers who know how to use sophisticated equipment. By one industry estimate, as many as 600,000 manufacturing positions remain vacant because employers can’t find skilled workers.

“Two years ago, employers were saying to me, ‘We’re thinking of doing a layoff,’ or, ‘We are doing a layoff,’ “ Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said at a forum of the Democratic Governors Association in Washington in February. “If you go back now, they say ‘Great things are happening, we are seeing recovery. Our challenge now is we can’t find enough trained employees to do the work that we have available.’ “

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