U.S. companies boost jobs in Juarez, Mexico

Workers of TECMA, a cross-border plant (maquiladora) are seen on September 29 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.

Kai Ryssdal: Here's some good labor news for once in a good long while. So far this year American companies have created more than 10,000 jobs in one single city: Juarez, Mexico.

Juarez is -- because of drug violence there -- widely considered one of the most dangerous places on the planet. But as Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports, the body count hasn't stopped U.S. companies.


Jeff Tyler: Business is down for Mexican retailers in Juarez as criminal gangs extort protection money from shop owners. But other industries have been spared.

Bob Cook: The organized crime element has not directly targeted legitimate manufacturing and distribution industries.

Bob Cook is president of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation, which recruits new businesses to El Paso and Juarez, just across the border.

Cook: We've created more than 10,000 new jobs in the city of Juarez since the beginning of this year, and almost 30,000 in the last two years.

Why Juarez? Location, location, location, says Tom Fullerton, an economics professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Tom Fullerton: The attractive feature of investing in Mexico is proximity, and the presence of a fairly highly trained, export-oriented manufacturing labor force.

Some companies are spending more on security. But not all.

Alan Russell: We have not increased costs at all.

Alan Russell is president of The Tecma Group, which helps U.S. companies manufacture goods in Mexico.

Russell: We don't have a single weapon on any Tecma property. So it's not an environment where we're having to guard the gates and guard the people inside the building.

Russell says business has never been better.

Russell: We will have a record year in 2011.

Some workers on the U.S. side will benefit as well. Analysts estimate that for every 10 jobs created in Juarez, one new job is created in El Paso.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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