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Debunking political “screaming about yesterday’s problems” on trade and jobs

“If anyone is claiming that China is enjoying a healthy or robust jobs market, they have no idea what they’re talking about”.

That’s a summation by Leland Miller, chief executive the research firm, China Beige Book International, as quoted in The New York Times  report headlined, “Is China Stealing Jobs? It May Be Losing Them, Instead“.

The jobs are being lost because of a slowing Chinese economy, rising costs and stiffer competition. It’s not surprising that the growing competition is coming from lower-production-cost countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. But increasingly, the U.S. is part of that transition — although you might not think so when listening to some demagogic rhetoric in the current presidential campaign.

The Times report includes this commentary on two recent relevant studies by The Boston Consulting Group:

“… the costs of manufacturing in China’s major export-producing zones were now almost the same as in the United States, after taking into account wages, worker productivity, energy costs and other factors. Without the lure of large cost savings, more American companies are ‘reshoring’, or moving factories back …  24 percent [of U.S. manufacturers studied] said that they were actively shifting production home from China or were planning to do so over the next two years, up from only 10 percent in 2010.”

Hal Sirkin, a BCG senior partner, observed, ” It just makes economic sense. The U.S. right now is in a very favorable position.”