Firms bring outsourced jobs 'onshore'

A jobs sign in lures workers in Louisiana

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: One glimmer of good news in the American job market might be a change in attitude by some companies. Some of them have started bringing back jobs they outsourced to China and other low-wage countries. Enough so that it's actually got a name: On-shoring.

From New York, Jill Barshay reports.


Jill Barshay: Earlier this week, Ford Motor Company announced it's bringing jobs that are currently done in India, Mexico and Japan back to the U.S.

Marcey Evans is the manufacturing communications manager at Ford.

Marcey Evans: There are a lot of other costs that go into the equation when you are talking about where to source a product or a component. It's more than just labor costs that have to be considered.

She cites transportation and quality costs. Mark Krywko is the president of Sleek Audio. Two and a half years ago, he shifted production of his earphones to China. But he's moving most of it back to Florida.

Mark Krywko:The quality issue was our biggest problem. It forced us to hire people to inspect each and every little item that was coming back from China.

Producing quickly can be more important than producing cheaply. Kevin Potts is a vice president at Emptoris, which works with companies on their supply chain costs. He says most of his clients are considering on-shoring.

Kevin Potts: I think another perfect example was the Icelandic volcano and how that disrupted shipping. It caused a lot of just-in-time manufacturers to really rethink, "Should I have some kind of capacity here in the United States, 'cause I'm not getting the supply from Europe that I thought I would get."

Potts predicts more high-end production, such as medical device manufacturing, will return here.

I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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