America’s outsourcing clock is ticking

A series of articles on outsourcing by the New Hampshire Business Review’s Cindy Kibbe (the third and final part can be found on page 1B) has highlighted the complex ramifications of the practice.

While it’s true that sending jobs overseas has been a long-held practice in the United States, new concerns have been raised in recent years as higher-paying, seemingly non-transportable jobs have been heading offshore as well.

Whatever your opinion of outsourcing, or offshoring, the fact remains that the jury is still out on its ultimate effect on the American economy.

But the time may soon be coming when we won’t have to predict that effect.

For instance, a recent article by Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach,, “America’s Job-Quality Trap,” points out what he sees as a disturbing trend in U.S. jobs growth: low-end jobs accounted for 44 percent of the new hiring between February and June. We’re talking about jobs in clothing and grocery stores, hotels, personal and laundry services and as couriers and in business support – not exactly the stuff that economic dreams are made of.

Adding fuel to the fire is a recent article in The Boston Globe, which discusses a report by the Boston Consulting Group. That report bluntly urges U.S. firms to speed up offshoring operations — including even research and development jobs – or else risk extinction.

“The largest competitive advantage will lie with those companies that move soonest,” the report says. “Companies that wait will be caught in a vicious cycle of uncompetitive costs, lost business, underutilized capacity, and the irreversible destruction of value.”

Statistics like those cited by Roach are the kind that should make all American businesspeople stand up and take notice.

And words such as those uttered in the Boston Consulting Group report should send chills up their spine.

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