Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005
Cheap Labor
Made in China may become a thing of the past. The New York Times has an article about labor shortages at factories in China partly due to low wages and poor working conditions. Since cheap labor is so important to the world's economy, the shortage could "benefit" places like Vietnam and Cambodia. In other words, these countries can have more low-paying, exploitive jobs to provide the US with essential consumer products like toy action figures. What's really sad is the jobs will likely pay more than the Vietnamese or Cambodians are currently making so viewed through some really cracked glasses, we can say were creating opportunity.

The Chinese interviewed in the story had some good comments about this. One young woman said that the job took so much of her time that she had no time left to study and improve herself.

The changes in China are partly due to mobile phones and the internet. Workers at these factories in the past were isolated (especially young woman who were preferred employees as they were thought to be docile). Now they text message and email with friends at other factories and share wage and benefit information.

Thanks to Ongoing for the pointer.


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