American manufacturing companies have a spring in their step

Monday, March 11, 2019

Foxconn's latest reversal suggests manufacturing is undergoing a revival, especially among agile smaller firms and those using advanced techniques. 

When Taiwanese giant Foxconn announced plans to build a massive factory for high-end televisions in 2017, many cheered, including President Donald Trump. Electronics manufacturers had long ago abandoned America for cheaper countries, especially China, so the investment seemed to mark a reversal, albeit one that came with a significant amount of subsidies.

But what Foxconn will do in southeastern Wisconsin is now in question. The company has discovered that it is hard to get thousands of Midwesterners to work long hours at stressful assembly-line jobs for relatively low pay. Earlier this month, Trump personally intervened and persuaded Foxconn’s boss, Terry Gou, not to pull out. Even so, Foxconn has scaled back its mass-manufacturing plans, and an insider confirms that it will now make only unspecified quantities of “high-value products.”

At first glance, the Foxconn reversal confirms that American manufacturing is in trouble. A closer look, however, suggests manufacturing is undergoing a revival, especially among agile smaller firms and those using advanced techniques.

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