The great news this morning that Apple is considering bringing back some production to the United States brought out the pessimist in me.

This was my first tweet of the day:

US-made tech products are best/but will apple bring sweatshops to the US?- Apple CEO wants to make more products in US

There have been several reports lately that manufacturing jobs are starting to come back to our shores, but what’s driving a lot of the turnaround is sinking wages for Americans. No, we still don’t make as little as our Chinese counterparts, but the wallets of average American workers has been getting thinner everyday.

This from a Wall Street Journal article from Monday titled “Flat U.S. Wages Help Fuel Rebound in Manufacturing”:

With unemployment still high and global competition intense, employers have the upper hand in asking unions to relax work rules and restrain, or reduce, wages and benefits. Scores of U.S. companies have negotiated two-tier contracts with unions that allow them to pay new hires less than existing workers or otherwise restrain wage and benefit costs.

Indeed, real wages for U.S. workers grew at their slowest rate in two years, this on the heels of a report that CEOs brought in record pay checks in 2011.

tim-cook.jpgApple’s CEO Tim Cook made close to $400 million in compensation last year. The average Apple worker in China makes: about $500 a month.

It’s hard to imagine how a corporation so addicted to cheap labor — so much so that it did little for years to boost wages and better conditions at its manufacturing arm in China despite mass suicides — would be able to bring any substantial number of U.S. jobs back.

We need manufacturing to return, but I’m hoping the average pay for workers here doesn’t fall so much that it starts to make serious economic sense for companies like Apple to put up a serious U.S. manufacturing tent. Moving sweat shops here won’t do a lot to bolster the American dream.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]