How’s That Reshoring Going?

The United States has been reshoring for some years now, bringing manufacturing back from China to the United States.

Or has it? A report from A. T. Kearney says that there has been less reshoring activity than offshoring activity for the past four years. “The manufacturing import ratio is calculated by dividing manufactured goods imports from 14 Asian markets by U. S. domestic gross output of manufactured goods. The U. S. reshoring index is the year-over-year change in the manufacturing ratio.”

Not so fast. A report from the Boston Consulting Group says that “the share of executives saying that their companies are actively reshoring production increased by 9% since 2014 and by about 250% since 2012. This suggests that companies that were considering reshoring in the past three years are now taking action. By a two-to-one margin, executives said they believe that reshoring will help create U.S. jobs at their companies rather than lead to a net loss of jobs.”

The two data sets are not the same. The first data set compares goods manufactured in Asia with goods manufactured in the United States. The second, more optimistic data set is based on a survey of executives reporting their plans and dreams.

But the A.T. Kearney report is comparing imports and U.S.-made goods, not goods manufactured offshore by U.S. companies vs. goods manufactured in U.S. factories. It’s not teasing out data about goods manufactured in the U.S. by companies that used to do their manufacturing overseas. In fact, it has no data specifically related to reshoring. It’s assuming that reshoring will lead to an increase in American made goods over goods from 14 countries in Asia.With no attempt to control all the other variables relating to reshoring, this data may not be that relevant.

Are tangentially related numbers better than directly related attitudes in quantifying or predicting reshoring numbers?

And how much is the data clouded by the rise of automation? The infographic below takes a shot at collecting that information.

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