Apart from nearly 63 million American voters, everyone knows manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back.
Our President-Elect has threatened to repatriate industries outsourced in the last few decades, particularly those lost to China, seemingly blissfully unaware that reshoring during a time of increasing automation will make for diminishing returns.
As John Lyons of the Wall Street Journal reports, manufacturers in Shenzhen can barely muster a collective shrug over Trump’s threats to tariff the U.S. back to greatness. They don’t think the work is going anywhere, except perhaps to neighboring provinces with cheaper labor or, eventually, into the robotic arms of machines.
Mr. Trump is using coercion and enticement to get firms to manufacture in the U.S. During the campaign, he vowed to get Apple to “build their damn computers and things” in America. This month, Apple supplier Foxconn said it may expand operations in the U.S.
But it remains unclear what operations or how many jobs such a move would generate. The other trend under way at Foxconn is a shift to more-automated factories using cost-saving robots. Foxconn declined to comment on its specific customers and plans.
“If these jobs come back to the U.S. they are going to be for people who manage 1,000 robots in an automated factory,” said Christopher Balding, a finance professor at Peking University in Shenzhen. “It will be jobs for computer nerds, not the people who voted for Trump.”•