Rocky Vega

In 2010, China had been overtaking the US as the number one biggest manufacturer in the world. However, a recent study from the Boston Consulting Group entitled, The Return of US Manufacturing, suggests that a “manufacturing renaissance” may be afoot in the US.

It’s a trend still very much in its earliest stages, but there are a couple reasons for manufacturing’s slow rebalancing back toward the US. Wage rates are increasing in China at the same time as they are decreasing in US. This is the case while productivity levels also remain higher in the US and the yuan continues to appreciate, making Chinese goods relatively more expensive. Together, these factors contribute to a potentially continued increase in the relative attractiveness of returning manufacturing work to the US.

According to The Fiscal Times:

“China’s wages are rising by 15 to 20 percent a year, while its productivity will improve at half that rate. The yuan is gaining in value, too, and Chinese-made products are destined to become more expensive. There is a shortage of skilled workers even in major manufacturing centers such as Shanghai and Tianjin.

“In the U.S., wage increases have been minimal for years and will remain at 3 percent or so annually. U.S. productivity will remain higher than China’s by a wide margin, and government incentives are also a factor in attracting U.S. manufacturers back home. ‘Reinvesting in the U.S. will accelerate,’ the study says, ‘as it becomes one of the cheapest locations for manufacturing in the developed world.’

“The math that went into this study is impressive, and it works like this: Right now, labor costs in China are slightly less than half those of the U.S. when the difference in productivity is factored in. In five years’ time, labor costs on the mainland will be 70 percent of the U.S. figure. Counting costs such as inventory and shipping, the study says, the Chinese cost advantage will drop to single digits or disappear entirely.

“It’s a convergence theory of a kind, and one forecasted result is that outsourcing jobs to China will turn out to have a beginning, middle, and end. ‘China will no longer be the default low-cost location for supplying the U.S. market,” the BCG study asserts. ‘The economics are becoming marginal for many products.’”

A few examples of the US companies repatriating manufacturing include Caterpillar tripling its excavating equipment production capacity, NCR bringing home automated teller machine production, and toy maker Wham-o returning 50 percent of its Hula Hoop and Frisbee production from China and Mexico. A couple data points offer some support for the concept, yet are by no means a guarantee of an ongoing trend in the making.

The study also points out that although the US has added 250,000 jobs in manufacturing since early 2010, it has a long way to go to recover the roughly 6 million jobs it has given up over the past ten years. Further, production growth to date has been concentrated in oil and computers, while most other sectors have continued to decline. You can read more details in The Fiscal Times coverage of how manufacturing jobs are returning home to the US.

Best,

Rocky Vega,
The Daily Reckoning

Rocky Vega

Rocky Vega is publisher of Agora Financial International, where he advances the growth of Agora Financial publishing enterprises outside of the US. Previously, he was publisher of The Daily Reckoning, and founding publisher of both UrbanTurf and RFID Update -- which he ran from Brazil, Chile, and Puerto Rico -- as well as associate publisher of FierceFinance. Rocky has an honors MS from the Stockholm School of Economics and an honors BA from Harvard University, where he served on the board of directors for Let?s Go Publications, Harvard Student Agencies, and The Harvard Advocate.

Recent Articles

In the Downdraft of Hormegeddon

Bill Bonner

The economist Milton Friedman didn’t go far enough when he said, “Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.” Oftentimes, that power is rendered more harmful -- to the point of Hormegeddon -- the better the intentions behind it. In today's essay, Bill Bonner highlights the conditions necessary for popular delusions and the disasters they lead to. Read on...


Addison Wiggin
Health Care Costs: Still the Pig in the Federal Python

Addison Wiggin

Right now, health care makes up about 25% of the federal budget. A scary statistic to be sure... But here's an even scarier one: health care's portion of the federal budget doubles roughly every 20 years. Yikes! Addison Wiggin explains why this is and what needs to change to prevent health care from taking up half the federal budget. Read on...


Six Signs Your Government’s Too Big

Chris Campbell

Is your government too big? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today with six “red flags” to look out for. Chris Campbell covers everything from one ObamaCare whistleblower to the strange case of our new Ebola czar. Read on…


McDisaster: Fast Food Is Dying – Make a Killing From It…

Greg Guenthner

McDonalds stock is getting crushed right now. Shares have been in a tailspin since June. But it’s not just Mickey Dee’s. Coca Cola shares are in freefall, too. Bad news for them. But if you want to rake in a pile of easy money, it could be great news for you. See, Americans just aren’t choking down this junk like they used to. The fast food burger, fries and a Coke are just down payments on an early coronary - and Type II diabetes. And everyone’s finally gotten the message. So how can you play the trend? Greg Guenthner explains…


In the Year 2024

James Rickards

Panopticon goggles? Severe market panic in 2018? Gold confiscation by 2020? Jim Rickards' shocking thought-piece in the spirit of A Brave New World or 1984. Click to see how markets, economics, your money, gold, privacy, wealth building and more look a decade from now in the year 2024...