For years Americans have seen manufacturing jobs relocated overseas in an effort to lower production costs. The loss of these jobs has put millions out of work, and has done nothing to help the economy. There is a push to relocate these lost jobs back to American soil, to help recreate the jobs that have been lost. However, the question is, will the returning of these factories actually create more jobs?
Companies are slowly making their way back to the United States, but they are not back with the same demand as when they left. Companies are coming back because they no longer need to utilize the low labor costs overseas, as they no longer have labor costs at all. Companies are coming back because technology has afforded them the cheapest alternative to human labor: automation.
The majority of manufacturing processes have the ability to be automated, and employment has reflected this change. Processes that took hours to complete by hand have been cut in half in countless situations, and the number of workers required for the task has drastically fell as well. For example, a company could double or even triple their output, but the number of workers would only grow by 40% due to their replacement through automation. Furthermore, technology is still evolving and growing. The current jobs to monitor or repair machines might soon be replaced by other, smaller robots. Therefore, although industry output may increase, the number of employees may not reflect it's growth.
It is not just the United States where manufacturing jobs are disappearing; all around the world, workers are being replaced with machines. So the problem is balancing prosperity and efficiency with human employment. Do we halt innovation in order to fulfill the need for jobs? It doesn't look like that will be happening any time soon. A shift from production of goods to the service industry is more likely to continue.