Made in America

A local economist whose views I respect wrote an article for today’s Sunday paper saying that there need not be so much gloom over the “giant sucking sound” of jobs being offshored from America. He says that the US also imports jobs; foreign companies—most notably the Japanese auto companies—have built plants here and created a lot of good jobs. He cites auto plants in the South, Midwest and even the San Francisco Bay Area.

While the nation agonizes over the giant sucking sound of jobs going overseas, we must not lose sight of the opportunities of job creation here from attracting foreign companies to locate their businesses and factories in the United States.

How to get this to happen? He advocates big efforts by local and state governments to set up attractive deals with foreign companies. He also says business leaders should be working on these opportunities rather than just heading offshore at the first temptation of lower-cost workers.

He concludes:

It is high time that we as a nation focus on job imports rather than just try to pass laws and regulations to curb job exports. It is time that we start reversing the trend using the market mechanism and not depend solely on protectionist measures.

That’s a good pep talk. Still, I wonder if his notions apply as much to information-intensive jobs that can be accomplished by electronic networks as they do to factories and manufacturing labor. Time will tell.

(If the article has disappeared into the newspaper’s archive but you want a copy, click on the “Email Me” link way down on the right column and I’ll send you a PDF.)

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  1. The current devaluation of the dollar does make the USA a lower cost producer and will bring in jobs. We need to consider however that what makes American labor cheap also means workers in areas like the EU become better paid in dollar terms then Americans. In a world economy that is a double edge sword.