American Manufacturing Exodus Continues

Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

American Manufacturing Exodus Continues

Sowing the seeds of their own destruction.

Polaris announced record-high profits on April 20. Giddy investors sent share prices up over 21 percent. But investors are giddy for another reason—the expectation of even more profits now that Polaris is moving another factory out of America.

Polaris is a recognized leader in the snowmobile industry. It is one of the largest manufacturers of orvs (off-road vehicles) in the world. And its Victory motorcycles, established in 1998, were the first all-new American-made motorcycles from a major company in around 60 years. Polaris is also recognized for its profit-sharing culture, whereby profits are shared with employees.

Yet Polaris is now part of a trend that is destroying the country from within.

Despite record profits, Polaris is still closing at least one U.S. factory in favor of those in foreign countries. In Wisconsin—the seat of high-profile union action—Polaris is soon set to cut nine of every 10 jobs. Around 435 workers will be hitting the pavement and unemployment insurance offices in Osceola.

The jobs will be transferred to a low-cost factory in Mexico.

The company is looking for ways to cut labor costs. In the U.S., the average worker makes close to $18 per hour, while in Mexico, the prevailing wage is closer to $3 per hour. But the cost of doing business in America is even higher when you include health-care costs, retirement plan contributions, union extortion, taxes and environmental compliance.

According to a source quoted by the Wall Street Journal, “all the incentives in the global economy … are such as to steadily move the production of tradable goods and … tradable services out of the U.S.”

In fact, the stream of companies taking production facilities and thus skills and technology out of the country has become a raging river. Many iconic U.S. companies really are not American anymore. General Electric, for example, has steadily cut U.S. jobs. Today over 54 percent of the company’s employees are overseas, and 60 percent of its business is conducted in foreign countries. Cisco Systems has doubled its foreign workforce in recent years; almost half of its employees are no longer U.S. citizens. Even the big auto manufacturers are focusing on expanding overseas, while their domestic operations languish.

One in five Americans are employed by multinational corporations, according to analyst Dustin Ensinger. But as these companies increase their employee ranks overseas, they have cut jobs in America. It is not some nefarious plot—they are just maximizing profit. Unfortunately that means dumping costly U.S. employees even as they try to sell to big-spending, credit-card-clad Americans.

What does the decline in manufacturing mean for the average American? We repeat what we warned five years ago:

First, America as a whole will eventually become poorer, so be prepared to downgrade your standard of living. As progressively more manufacturers move abroad, the flow of money out of the country will exceed the benefits of cheap imports. At some point, America’s trade deficit will overwhelm us. If this trend continues, eventually Americans will not be producing enough to pay for the standard of living that post-World War ii America has become used to.Second, if you are not among the rich and you rely on a job, prepare yourself for job security issues. In plain language, if you work in the manufacturing industry, don’t expect raises and don’t be shocked if your job gets “outsourced.”

By building factories overseas, manufacturers are sowing the seeds of their own destruction by slowly reducing the wealth of Americans—their primary customers. This will not end well.