Manufacturing returns to the United States, minus unions

Updated
In this handout image provided by Apple, Apple store employees greet CEO Tim Cook at the new Apple Store on October 27, 2012 in Palo Alto, California.
In this handout image provided by Apple, Apple store employees greet CEO Tim Cook at the new Apple Store on October 27, 2012 in Palo Alto, California.
Don Feria/Apple via Getty Images

America is producing new manufacturing jobs, but they’re not like the jobs of yore. In fact, the American manufacturing industry—an old labor stronghold—is now increasingly non-union.

“[T]here were 4% fewer union factory workers in 2012 than there were in 2010, according to federal survey data,” reports The Washington Post. ”On balance, all of the job gains in manufacturing have been non-union.”

Factory workers are taking less money home, as well. Though high wages have been a hallmark of the manufacturing industry for decades, those wages are now declining relative to inflation.

The decline in wages—and the weakness of organized labor—may be part of the reason why manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States. As wages go up in China and drop in America, the cost-saving benefits of building factories overseas shrink. As a result, Apple computers recently announced that it would be building a new line of computers in the United States within the year.

Meanwhile, manufacturing unions are left struggling in the face of severe political attacks. The right-to-work battle in Michigan was significant precisely because the state was historically a power base for manufacturing unions such as the United Auto Workers.

Manufacturing returns to the United States, minus unions

Updated