Dec 11 2012

Made in the USA: Apple Moves to Bring Some Manufacturing Back Home

Tech giant is investing $100 million in American manufacturing.

The move by many companies to outsource manufacturing to overseas sites over the past two decades has had a significant impact on American jobs. According to recent research by MIT economist David Autor, “as American imports from China grew more than tenfold between 1991 and 2007, roughly a million U.S. workers lost jobs due to increased low-wage competition from China.”

But there’s a big push to bring many of those jobs back to the U.S., starting with a call to arms by the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. In a recent blog post on the Department of Labor’s site, she said, “American workers have never been more productive, so even when we can’t make products cheaper than the Chinese can, we sure can make them better.”

Count technology heavyweight Apple among the companies willing to reinvest in American quality and jobs. The company currently has about 47,000 employees in the United States, according to a story in NPR. In comparison, the company’s China-based manufacturer employs over 1 million people, according to a report from the BBC, although not all of those workers are building iPhones and iPads.

With an eye on the domestic workforce, Apple is now planning to bring some of its manufacturing — and much-needed jobs — back to America. Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed this in a recent interview with Josh Tyrangiel of Bloomberg Businessweek:

It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported—the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it.

It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.

It is unclear which product or products will be assembled in the United States and where the work will take place, but we do know that Apple has already produced some of its new iMacs here, according to a story from Forbes:

Earlier this week, consumers received a bit of a surprise when they purchased the newly revised iMac and discovered that some of them were assembled in America. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has yet to speak about the number of iMacs that are being assembled in America, nor has the company said where exactly the assembly is taking place.

Check out a brief history of Apple’s manufacturing and let us know what you think in the Comments section.