From the Shop Floor — The Week in Manufacturing (4/27/2012)

Commerce Secretary John Bryson was in Upstate New York this week promoting both the U.S. economic recovery and, in particular, the future of manufacturing.

Campaign season is clearly upon us.  In the Huffington Post one Democratic congressional candidate touches three of the hottest of hot buttons in a rhetoric-rich, promise-filled post:  boosting manufacturing, creating jobs and renewing America’s middle class.

Meanwhile in Missouri, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from the other side of the aisle says America needs people in both the “agricultural and manufacturing communities.”

General Electric Chief Executive Jeff Immelt told the Financial Times he sees bright days ahead for U.S. manufacturing.

Just when you thought this had all but blown over, Apple’s manufacturing partner in China, Foxconn, had 200 hourly workers climb onto a factory roof Friday and threaten to jump if their wage and working condition demands were not addressed.  Meanwhile, one Forbes contributor hears that the protest is not about Apple at all, but Microsoft.

Here’s a story, fortunately, you don’t read much these days.  An engine plant in Alabama will lay off 250 workers and move its operations to China.

Here’s an interesting trend story from Salon about something that amounts to the opposite of outsourcing of thousands of American factory jobs to foreign shores: the “insourcing” of thousands of American health care jobs to foreign immigrants.

The AP reports that China, as a result of lower-than-expected worldwide demands,  is paring back its once-lofty electric car ambitions.

A combination of ongoing European debt and a continued slowdown in China led to slower growth for the U.S. economy in the Q1 of 2012.

On the other side of the coin, CNBC reports that the European debt crisis could trigger a boom in U.S. manufacturing.

Danish drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk announced it will increase its job force in the U.S. by 15%, with additions to its operations in both North Carolina and Washington State.

 How’s this for relative size and strength.  According to blogger Mark Perry, the 10th largest economy in the world is…the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Forbes addresses why, political rhetoric aside, mass employment is not coming back.  It’s the productivity.

A sure sign of a growing middle class: the L.A. Times tells us SUVs are taking off in China.

Forbes also says that Chinese manufacturers are attempting to combat growing domestic labor costs by hiring cheaper migrant laborers…from, of all places, North Korea.

Reuters reports that lukewarm demand is putting a kink on the Chinese steel industry.

The New York Times reports that, led by a drop in orders in the aircraft industry, the orders overall for durable goods fell sharply last month.

Automakers globally are saying they’re getting pressure from the government in China to launch and sell models specifically branded to the local Chinese market.

And finally, take this as a sign that this country’s recovery is broadening: the Commerce Department reported this week that in 2011 the still-growing manufacturing sector contributed a smaller percentage to the overall growth of the economy than it did in 2010.




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