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CPBJ Extra Blog

Caribbean manufacturing, Chinese style

By - Last modified: June 7, 2013 at 9:12 AM
Jim T. Ryan
Jim T. Ryan

China and the United States are forever going to have a complex relationship. Particularly when it comes to economics.

And no one knows this more than the manufacturing sector. In the past, this was embodied by the flight of manufacturing, and jobs, to China, where inexpensive labor meant massive savings for large companies.

Small companies that followed this lead and outsourced some part of their production to Chinese firms soon found they weren't getting the quality they expected. Some, like Lancaster County-based Pequea Machine, brought production back to the U.S.

So if your stress has you thinking you could use a Caribbean beach vacation, I have advice for you: Learn some key phrases in Mandarin.

Apparently, the Chinese want to build manufacturing facilities in the Caribbean as a jumping off point for entry into the U.S. China State Construction Engineering Corp. is already building resorts in the Bahamas, according to China Daily, the largest English-language newspaper.

Talking about imports, don't forget the rising trade deficit. Of course, trade deficits are important to any economy, right down to local companies. Exports continue to be the best way for manufacturers to compete in a changing world. Here's the story from the Washington Post on the latest trade numbers.

Take note that since 2011 it actually looks like imports have slowed, yet exports continue to grow, even if slowly, but that still didn't keep the gap from expanding in April by 8.5 percent.

Importing or exporting, eventually you need trucks to move the stuff. Found this blog from the New York Times interesting. Truck drivers are among the few categories getting raises. They and professors at junior colleges, universities and professional schools — although, of the two professions, it's looking like the truck driver could have better job security.

Want job security and pay raises? First you need a job. In my two-part Workforce Woes stories, we looked at the conditions keeping people out of jobs. We intend to revisit the subject from time to time. We welcome your suggestions about workforce issues. Email me.

Check this out: Part-time and temporary workers employed by staffing firms increased nearly 3 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to the American Staffing Association. On average, there were nearly 2.9 million temporary and contract workers per day in the first quarter.

But I figured I'd leave you with an interesting statistic from the nice folks at the Harrisburg-based Center for Employment, Education and Entrepreneurial Development.

If you had to venture a guess, what percentage of people using CEEED's services have multiple (two or more) barriers to employment? Here are the figures, according to Gigi Rios at the center:

• People CEEED assessed this fiscal year: 647

• Clients with multiple employment barriers: 289

• Percent of clients with multiple barriers: 45 percent

It's another illustration of the depth of employment barriers, including mental and physical disabilities, addictions, transportation, child care, criminal history, education and developmental disabilities.

Jim T. Ryan covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, transportation and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @JimTRyanCPBJ.

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