It might come as a surprise to casual observers that the city of Detroit is filing for bankruptcy. To those seasoned industry watchers, it is an event waiting to happen. Detroit has a prominent place in US history because it is considered “a metonym for the American automobile industry and an important source of popular music legacies celebrated by the city’s two familiar nicknames, the Motor City and Motown.”
Many reasons ultimately contributed to the collapse of city finances but the dominant cause is the loss of jobs in the automobile industries over the decades that was not adequately replaced. A thief can steal your belongings but nobody can steal your job. So where did all the jobs go? It is definitely not China if the mainstream US press is to be believed. I am just sensationalising the title to grab some attention. The fact of the matter is, automobile manufacturing in the US ceased to be centred in Michigan and now spread over a much greater geographic areas across Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Indiana, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina etc.
Nevertheless, you would be very surprised if I tell you that Detroit is the number one port of import of automobiles into the US. Around 20% of the 14.5 million new light vehicles sold in the US were built overseas and imported into the US. Here’s a short take of the 2012 figures:
Detroit, MI: 1,182,142
Loredo, TX: 606,966
Brunswick, GA: 483,719
New York/New Jersey: 426,943
Buffalo, NY: 407,131
Port Huron, MI: 406,658
Eagle Pass, TX: 379,072
San Diego, CA: 328,723
Baltimore, MD: 323,200
Jacksonville, FL: 288,030
For more detail: http://blog.caranddriver.com/port-authority-a-comprehensive-look-at-where-imported-vehicles-enter-the-u-s/
For those who has long memory, the case of Vincent Chin comes to mind. He was beaten to death by two disgruntled laid off auto workers in Highland Park, Michigan (which is located in Detroit). They accused him of being Japanese and he was killed for allegedly stealing jobs from American.
We have heard of how jobs were off shored to third world countries like China, Mexico etc. The only developed countries that was singled out was Japan in the 1980s but the voice died out after the collapse of Japan’s stock and property market.
I find it very ironic that Detroit actually has become the number one port of entry of vehicles to the US. It used to be the premier based of auto manufacturing. As you can tell from the figures, more than half of vehicles import into the US comes in through Detroit, Port Huron, Buffalo from Canada with Detroit accounting to one third the total figure. The rest of the import are mostly from Germany and Korea.
These manufacturing jobs are high paying jobs paying around $35-50/hr. Why are the politicians and press silent on these issue? The Japanese, Canadian, German and to a lesser extent Korean pay are comparable to US workers, so if employment can be stolen it should be these jobs. What is happening in Detroit has been going on for years but now it finally got the press it receive, will the situation be solved?
(Edited to include some answers to Allen’s questions.)