by Lydia DePillis, Washington Post:
For the past few months, Wal-Mart has been pushing its new face of corporate responsibility: After decades of sending work overseas through ruthless price competition, it’s bringing them back to America, by committing to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars more in U.S.-made goods. But those manufacturing jobs, once they return, aren’t going to look quite like they did in the past.
Consider the case of Kent Bicycles, which Wal-Mart announced on Thursday would be building a new plant in South Carolina. Kent’s story is the story of American manufacturing: It started out making bicycles in New Jersey back in the 1970’s, but by the 1990’s, the imbalance between labor costs in America and China had grown to great to ignore, and the company completely outsourced production.
“By that time, the whole mystique of ‘made in the USA’ was disappearing, and nobody would pay a premium of 2 percent for a U.S. product compared to an import,” says Arnold Kamler, the company’s CEO. “We always hoped that we could start back up again.”
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