Despite fears, Mexico’s manufacturing boom is lifting U.S. workers

Workers assemble the Forte sedan on the floor of a Kia plant in Nuevo Leon, which began production in May. (Natalie Kitroeff / Los Angeles Times)
Workers assemble the Forte sedan on the floor of a Kia plant in Nuevo Leon, which began production in May. (Natalie Kitroeff / Los Angeles Times)

By Natalie Kitroeff / Wall Street Journal

Enrique Zarate, 19, had spent just a year in college when he landed an apprenticeship at a new BMW facility in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. If he performs well, in a year he’ll win a well-paid position, with benefits, working with robots at the company’s newest plant.

“When you start with such little experience, and get such a big salary, it’s unbelievable,” says Zarate, whose father is a taxi driver and whose mother is a housewife.

That sounds like an exported version of the American dream, circa 1965, in places such as Dearborn, Mich., or Marysville, Ohio. Indeed, the influx of those types of jobs to Mexico has enraged Ford employees in Wayne, Mich., and the makers of furnaces in Indianapolis.

But Mexico’s manufacturing surge has not been an unalloyed disaster for American workers.

U.S. manufacturing production, it turns out, is rising as well. Factory output has nearly reached its all-time high this year, and is up more than 30% since 2009.

The bottom line, say economists and company executives, is that what’s good for Mexico’s factory workers is good for some U.S. workers too.

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-manufacturing-boom-mexico/

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