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Post Recession Reshoring is an Opportunity For Millennials

Updated on November 14, 2016

The last 7 years or so have been rough on the middle class, and rougher on the working class in the US. However, the same problems that pushed us down have created circumstances that we can now take advantage of to get back on our feet, or to get on our feet in the first place if you’re a relatively fresh entrant to the workforce. The recession worked as a sort of reset to our economy by pushing people out of work, collapsing weak industries, and generally wrecking our livelihoods. This happened for a variety of reasons, but a big one is the country’s growing debt as a result of war and a massive trade deficit that we developed through outsourcing.

The US was Too Wealthy

No, you or your parents weren’t necessarily too rich. The whole country was out of joint with the rest of the world. The same money that could buy you one hamburger in the US could buy 3 or 4 in another country. That rise in prices was gradual, and our income kept up with it for a while, so it wasn’t really that noticeable. The problem was that this created a situation where it was a lot more expensive for our employers to pay us a living wage in the US, than it would be to pay workers in Asia a living wage and then pay to ship the goods back here. That’s when the outsourcing movement was born, and was hailed as the next big thing in economic development. That meant that everyone who used to actually produce things was either unemployed, or got a job as a redundant middle manager on a cubicle farm somewhere. All of that worked just fine until suddenly it didn’t. The recession struck, we were laid off, our homes went into default, and the banks collapsed.


Since brutally exploiting foreign workers has become increasingly unpopular in recent years, companies have been forced to provide better wages, reasonable hours, and safe working conditions for foreign workers. Because of this, falling energy costs, and the stagnant, recession-level wages in the US, outsourcing is finally becoming outdated. Not all manufacturers are coming back, of course, but those who are are bringing tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs with them. Technical labor, once a staple of the US middle class, is slowly starting to re-establish itself.

Getting In While You Can

The companies that are coming back mostly aren’t interested in setting up assembly lines. They need engineers, programmers, and people with technical skills to automate and manage their production lines. To get in you need to get a suitable skill, or you need to get a degree that qualifies you to manage these individuals. While unemployment figures are now nice and low, there is still fierce competition for these new jobs because many of the US’s young people a underemployed and looking for a real job.


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      4 years ago

      Reshoring is happening.

      New reshoring is now balancing new offshoring at about 40,000 manufacturing jobs/year, resulting in the first neutral year of job loss/gain in the last 20.

      According to the Reshoring Initiative reshoring and FDI yielded between 2010 and 2014:

      - About 170,000 manufacturing jobs

      - 25% of manufacturing job growth

      - 400,000 total jobs including the manufacturing multiplier effect

      Manufacturing is shifting to local production for proximity to customers, R&D and consumer preference for Made in America.

      Reshoring to the U.S. shortens supply chains and positions manufacturing near customers’ which gives companies better flexibility and the agility needed to meet customers’ demand for customization and faster time to market, eliminates higher shipping expenses, minimizes supply chain disruptions and eliminates the larger production runs and inventories associated with long distance offshoring.

      Consumers are becoming more sensitive to social and environmental concerns and are increasingly responsive to “Made in USA” as mentioned in the article.

      Investments in training play an important role in enabling reshoring of manufacturing and jobs.

      Availability of a sufficient quality and quantity of skilled workers is often the number one site selection criterion and is a key issue for retention and expansion.

      Skilled manufacturing technologists, especially those that have passed an apprenticeship, are extremely well trained, work in their area of training and earn an income at least comparable to university graduates.

      The Reshoring Initiative believes that the key to skilled workforce development is motivating a higher quantity and quality of recruits and recommends a high impact-minimal cost skilled workforce development program which can be found here:

      In order to help companies decide objectively to reshore manufacturing back to the U.S. or offshore, the not-for-profit Reshoring Initiative’s free Total Cost of Ownership Estimator can help corporations calculate the real P&L impact of reshoring or offshoring.


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