Reshoring U.S. Manufacturing Jobs is a Team Effort

In Act 2, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Antonio said to Sebastian “Whereof what's past is prologue; what to come, in yours and my discharge." Although the context is entirely different, the wording gives us some insights into Walmart’s involvement in driving manufacturing work offshore and back as mentioned in Walmart’s Imports From China Displaced 400,000 jobs, a Study Says ( Dec 9, 2015 NYT). The article gets loose with the facts about what is happening and will happen, understating by a factor of more than 10 the challenge that Walmart’s commitment to American-made represents.

U.S. consumers’ priority for low prices, indeed drove large numbers of manufacturing jobs offshore, not just with retail, but almost uniformly throughout U.S. industry including cars, steel and computers. The buyers included a broad range of industrial companies and also governments. For example, the Bay Area Bridge was constructed from $1 billion of Chinese steel fabrications, probably 5,000 or more manufacturing job years, sent offshore to find the lowest price by the government whose responsibility is to citizens, not to shareholders.

The writer and the Economic Policy Institute could have dug deeper to the underlying causes of offshoring and blamed the government for high corporate tax rates, a consistently overvalued dollar, a poor basic education system and probably the weakest manufacturing skills training in the developed world. Also, unions for making some industries uncompetitive in the U.S. and even consumers for placing a higher priority on price than on quality or American-made. In effect, the millions of jobs offshore are now a resource, a “prologue,” that a wise country can draw on to restore its manufacturing base and economy.

Walmart has committed to increase over 10 years its purchases of American-made products by $250 billion, which we estimate will bring back about 300,000 manufacturing jobs; however, Walmart’s program’s actual impact depends on you and me. If the media focuses on accurately measuring and, as appropriate, praising and supporting Walmart in the present and future, Walmart will be more likely to achieve this historic reversal. If you and I select Walmart’s American-made products instead of imported brands and ask store management to stock more American-made products, we will be supporting the effort. One way for retailers and suppliers to support American-made: Resources for Retail Suppliers, on our website, provides personal access to 35 manufacturing trade associations, Commerce Dept. offices, companies and banks, all ready to help suppliers produce more American-made products.

The Reshoring Initiative tracks reshoring and foreign direct investment (FDI) and concludes that Walmart has already driven at least twice as many U.S. manufacturing jobs as any other U.S. company we track and has the potential to be the largest driver by a factor of 10 or even 100. Walmart is the only company that has made the commitment to do its share and has the size and leverage to make a huge national difference. We encourage others to do the same.

Harry C. Moser Founder and President

Reshoring Initiative

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email: harry.moser@reshorenow.org

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Reshoring Initiative- Bringing manufacturing back home

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