Back in February, President Obama surprised Steve Jobs with a question of what it would take to make the iPhones in the United States, rather than China.
Jobs replied that the iPhone could never be made in the United States ... and no, it's not because American labor costs (in fact, labor cost is a tiny fraction of the cost of making an iPhone). It's because America simply doesn't have the manufacturing might anymore:
“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.
“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher wrote this intriguing article over at The New York Times about the death of manufacturing and the disappearing American middle class - if you read only one thing today, make it this one: Link | TLDR? Here it is in video summary