Textile mills are coming back to the U.S. but not bringing many jobs with them.
So reports The New York Times: U.S. Textile Plants Return, With Floors Largely Empty of People.
The article tells of one company that switched from buying textiles from a company in India to a company in South Carolina.
The U.S. based company is slightly higher in cost, but that is offset by the reduced travel time, faster turnaround, willingness of the U.S. to ask questions about and challenge the specifications they were given, and the greatly improved communication. Labor costs, specifically, are higher but the U.S. provider is better value when all of the above factors are considered.
A product that took 10 months to go from start of design to final product with a plant in India takes only a month or so with the South Carolina plant, according to the article. That more than offsets a slightly higher price.
One factor I read between the lines is that since the vendor is in the U.S., the purchaser doesn’t need to worry about workplace conditions in the vendor’s shop. In other words, that means the buyer doesn’t need to be concerned that there are unknown sweatshop issues, hazardous work conditions that will lead to a catastrophic fire killing a bunch of workers, or some other issues that might trash the reputation of his product.
It takes far fewer workers to make textiles now than when the mills left:
The mill here produces 2.5 million pounds of yarn a week with about 140 workers. In 1980, that production level would have required more than 2,000 people.
140 people doing what was previously done by 2,000.
Check out the full article. It covers the onshoring issues well.