Perhaps you missed the press about the U.S. manufacturing summit held Thursday (22 August) in Orlando. Bill Simon, Walmart's U.S. president and CEO said, "But the middle has eroded... Most people agree it can't go on like this."
During my morning swim, I somehow began contemplating how the loss of worker unions has eroded the middle class. I'll chew on this and post something about it over the Labor Day weekend.
But back to the manufacturing summit. Commerce Secretary Penny Prtizker announced $1.1T in exports for the first 6 months of the year. That is double 2003's yearly exports. There are market forces enticing U.S. manufacturing. Transportation costs continue to rise and foreign labor costs have increased substantially American worker productivity continues to rise, further reducing foreign labor cost advantages.
Although Walmart has been associated with low-cost Asian goods, it originally focused on American-made products. But to attract the attendance of 7 governors and a cabinet secretary, Walmart flexed its influence. Its suppliers are well aware of its influence and with Walmart promoting U.S. manufacturing, some savvy suppliers will figure out how to balance low cost and the new-found desire for home-based manufacturing.
Perhaps Walmart has read Henry Ford's autobiography where he identifies well-paid employees as valuable customers. The same is true for a middle-class retailer. If the middle class doesn't have jobs, they won't be filling shopping carts at Walmart.
This is a good thing.