economics | December 03, 2012

Jobs Are Coming Back to America: Charles Fishman's Atlantic Cover Story

In a sweeping Atlantic cover story, Charles Fishman says that General Electric's return to insourcing may be indicative of a more widespread trend to bring manufacturing back onto U.S. soil. In what the magazine calls "an exploration of the startling, sustainable, just-getting-started return of industry to the United States," Fishman gives us a history of the appliance manufacturer's decision to first move the bulk of its manufacturing overseas, and now to bring it back. "Something curious and hopeful has begun to happen," Fishman explains of the changes happening the manufacturing sector. "Just five years ago, not to mention 10 or 20 years ago, the unchallenged logic of the global economy was that you couldn’t manufacture much besides a fast-food hamburger in the United States. Now the CEO of America’s leading industrial manufacturing company says it’s not Appliance Park that’s obsolete—it’s offshoring that is."

Here are some of the article's main takeaways:

• More factory jobs are returning to the United States—probably to stay.

• Not only can you make dishwashers (and other appliances) better in America than you can in China or Mexico—but companies are beginning to find ways to make them cheaper at home.

• The outsourcing "boom" didn't save companies money. There was a notion that chasing the lowest cost and sending manufacturing overseas would help to cut down on production costs, but as Fishman says, "they didn't do the math right, and they didn't save money."

• Factories are, really, research and development labs. By bringing factory work back to America it means that, over time, companies can learn how to improve their products. When you construct something day in and day out, you learn all about the product and can then learn how to make the product better in terms of efficiency in construction and usefulness for the consumer.

Fishman is a celebrated investigative journalist who specializes in business innovation and social responsibility. In his bestselling book, The Wal-Mart Effect, he explains how the company grew to become one of the most power players in the corporate world. He understands the way industry operates, and explains that insourcing can benefit your company, and the American economy as a whole. He is also an expert on water, and his latest work, The Big Thirst, was the bestselling book on water in America to come out in the last 25 years.

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education | December 02, 2012