We constantly hear that if the US brings back manufacturing our ills with income inequality and underemployment would be resolved. For sure the moving of our industrial base overseas is one of the primary reasons behind income inequality, lack of opportunity and stagnation of social mobility. Each factory typically had an office attached with support staff. Foreman, supervisors and managers were often recruited from the factory floor. When the factory goes to China those jobs go to China. Its not just the guys and gals with lunch boxes that get sent to the financial gallows.
Manufacturing is changing. Repetitive tasks the hallmark of many former manufacturing jobs have now been automated away. Modern factories are designed to use far less workers and accordingly fewer supervisors. Moreover, its likely someone on a factory floor will be using a computer screen to perform production work. That person might be required to have some knowledge of software use.
Manufacturing is no longer competing against other high wage manufacturing jobs. The workers they will likely hire will be in the service sector making service sector wages, typically between $10 and $15 an hour. Therefore, not a lot of incentive to pay much beyond that amount. Add in that these new manufacturing jobs might be more likely to be full time with some levels of benefits and there will be no shortage of good applicants. To illustrate a job paying $16 an hour will pay a little more than $33K a year. Not exactly much of a paycheck to save for a house while still paying the monthly rent, paying a car note, covering health insurance and medical, food, and personal hygiene. In other words barely scrapping by. The average new automobile assembly worker is starting at $15.78 per hour. (True more senior workers still employed are in the $28 to $38 an hour range).
The Democrats like to scream that a college education is the answer. But then look at what many college graduates are doing and its not the be all answer the liberal elite claim it to be. The trades are a partial answer but again how many underwater specialized welders are needed globally. Even some of the trades are being and will be automated away.
The answer to this now more than decade issue of underemployment is complex and requires a total reworking of work, the work week and how we view work. Unfortunately with companies making record profits, in part because they are employing fewer human beings, the stock market soaring and executive pay seeing annual double digit gains don't look for leadership in the private sector. At least for now. If aggregate demand begins to collapse possibly the business community might rethink this problem. Government can't do this by itself and even if it could there's no incentive to do so.