Sunday, September 04, 2005

Vicissitudes: Economy

A headline in The State screams "Foreign competition [is] taking jobs from S.C."
Federal data analyzed by The State newspaper [shows] more than 53,000 South Carolina workers at 423 sites lost their jobs since 1994 because:

• The employers moved their jobs to countries where people work for less money.

• Cheaper imports cut the demand for the goods made in South Carolina.
Recognizing that a lack of productivity is at the heart of the problem, Linda Floyd, a program coordinator with the S.C. Employment Security Commission, said
It is hard to motivate middle-age people to go back to school. They’re often intimidated by the idea of college, especially after spending 20 years in a factory... You’re 42-years-old and you’ve got about 20 more years in the work force. How do you want to spend it? Being a cashier at Wal-Mart is fine if that’s what you want to do for the next 20 years.
Lewis Gossett, president of the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance (and perhaps the organization that wanted this in the paper), says "By and large, the quality of the jobs being lost is not being replaced."

But is it not South Carolina workers who are solely to blame. The Charlotte Observer notes that of all people, "China-based Haier adds workers, goes for bigger U.S. profits."
As the Carolinas have mourned the loss of traditional manufacturing jobs to China, Haier represented the flip side when it opened a $40 million, 350,000-square-foot Camden plant with 27 workers in 2000. It now employs 225 in this city about 110 miles south of Charlotte.

Over the next six months, the company plans to set up the research and design center on its 110 acres on a former hay field. Haier will service its U.S.-made refrigerators and send ideas about American tastes back to China for the development of other products.
So here we are. South Carolina manufacturers are bemoaning the fact that "foreign competition [is] taking jobs from S.C." while the Chinese are adding jobs and investing in research and development in Camden.

Some South Carolina manufacturers can not figure out how to be profitable with South Carolina workers, but Chinese manufacturers can. Is that a wake up call or what?

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