Thursday, June 04, 2015

Even if manufacturing returns to the US, the jobs won't

This probably isn't what the "Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign!" crowd had in mind (WSJ):

As robots become less costly and more accessible, they should help smaller manufacturers go toe to toe with giants. By reducing labor costs, they also may allow the U.S. and other high-wage countries to get back into some of the processes that have been ceded to China, Mexico and other countries with vast armies of lower-paid workers.

Some of the latest robots are designed specifically for the tricky job of assembling consumer-electronics items, now mostly done by hand in Asia. At least one company promises its robots eventually will be sewing garments in the U.S., taking over one of the ultimate sweatshop tasks.
Of course, this isn't to say all jobs are going away. They are changing though. A potential source of American jobs? China (WSJ):
China’s middle class continues to grow, reaching an estimated 630 million people by 2022. Those consumers want better health care, world-class education and a cleaner environment. China itself will eventually be able to provide those services, but meanwhile, the Internet makes it possible for China to create and sustain American jobs.

Take health care. In 1994, a Chinese university student named Zhu Ling became mysteriously ill. Other students posted her medical details on the Internet, allowing Western doctors to help diagnose her with thallium poisoning and to save her life. It was a famous early instance of effective telemedicine.

U.S. health-care professionals could provide China with a range of services. China had just one general practitioner for every 10,000 people in 2013, according to state media, and many Chinese are dissatisfied with the quality of the care. “China has very few doctors that can gain trust,” said Feng Xue, executive president of Tianjin Telemedicine Association, a nonprofit organization to promote telemedicine. “The U.S. has a strong brand.”

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