Most business people who run for public office emphasize their record of creating private sector jobs for the people they hope to represent. But David Perdue, Georgia’s Republican candidate for Senate, is taking an entirely different tact: bragging about the jobs he sent overseas.
Responding to reporters on Monday about revelations that he outsourced jobs during his career as a corporate executive, Perdue argued that offshoring is “a part of American business, party of any business,” adding “I’m proud of it.”
According to a July 2005 deposition obtained by Politico, Perdue admitted that he “spent most of my career” outsourcing jobs and shifting “manufacturing operations to lower-cost foreign factories, especially in Asia” while serving as CEO of a North Carolina textile manufacturer called Pillowtex Corp. Perdue added that he also moved parts of the manufacturing process to Asian countries while working with Kurt Salmon Associates, Gitano, and Sara Lee.
But while offshoring jobs may have been the norm when Perdue headed up Pillowtex in 2003, a growing number of American companies are now planning to bring back production to the U.S.
For instance, in 2003, 150,000 manufacturing jobs went to China and just 2,000 came back into America. Ten years later, analysts are describing the trend as “a wash.” Thirty thousand to 50,000 jobs left America for China in 2013, but “30,000 to 40,000 left China for the United States” and large businesses are increasingly focused on bringing jobs back into the country. A survey by Boston Consulting Group found that more than “50 percent of $1 billion-plus U.S. companies with operations in China are considering bringing all or part of their production to American shores,” double the number in 2012.
Over the last several years, “more than 200 companies, mostly U.S.-based, have brought back production they had sent out of the country,” including Apple, Lenovo, and GE, creating production and assembly lines in states like North Carolina and Kentucky. A constellation of economic factors are contributing to the wave of “onshoring,” such as rising wages and oil prices in Asian countries and the desire to reduce shipping costs back into the United States.
In defending his record of sending jobs overseas, Perdue blamed the federal government: “This is because of bad government policies: tax policy, regulation, even compliance requirements. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world.” But many of Perdue’s fellow businessmen disagree with that analysis.
“In previous decades, investment mainly went to Asia where wages were low,” Greg Hall, a senior vice president of Walmart, told Site Selection magazine. “The price of oil was low. … [Today] labor costs in Asia are rising. Oil and transportation costs are high and increasingly uncertain.” Walmart will shift $50 billion in manufacturing back to the United States.