Is GE Creating U.S. Jobs or Outsourcing Them?

By Steven Capozzola

Okay, folks, you decide…

In an editorial published yesterday at, Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Executive Director Scott Paul offered an assessment of the current state of U.S. manufacturing in which he pointed out that U.S. jobs are still being outsourced to China.

On the subject of outsourcing, Paul made clear that GE has a questionable record of recent job creation in the U.S.:

…the companies touting themselves as champions of the factory worker (General Electric) or being touted by the president (Master Lock) are dubious poster children for an American manufacturing renaissance. GE has brought back a little work from overseas, and they have hired back a small percentage of the workers they laid off over the past decade at their American factories. But GE has also recently closed more than 20 factories, shifted avionics and radiology businesses to China, and pushed for public policies that will allow them to continue that course. 

GE responded to Paul's op-ed:

Mr. Paul has his facts wrong. GE is not shifting its Avionics or X-ray businesses to China. Those jobs remain in Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan. Today, GE is building or refurbishing 16 factories in the U.S., adding 13,000 workers. Looking further back (as Mr. Paul does), GE employment in our core U.S. manufacturing businesses is up 20 percent in the past decade (in that time, we have tripled our exports from U.S. factories). GE now has more than 200 U.S. manufacturing facilities, compared to 83 in 1995 and 150 in 2000. Last week we opened our first new product line in 50 years at our appliances plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Paul is right that creating manufacturing jobs isn't easy, but GE is committed to making it happen.

To which Paul immediately explained:

GE's spokesperson puts a nice spin on things, but my facts are entirely correct. GE is moving its radiology business to China, as Reuters has reported. And click here to read about GE's joint avionics venture with a Chinese firm.

GE is self-identifying "core" manufacturing interests, as though its other manufacturing interests simply vanished from the books. The truth is, they closed many of those plants. According to GE's own records and statements, it had 125,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs in 2000 compared to 50,000 in 2010. Government records show at least 38 events since 2001 in which workers at GE plants in the U.S. were made eligible for trade adjustment assistance due to outsourcing or import competition.

I'm happy GE is investing in Louisville, but it should acknowledge its layoffs, as well.

Okay, readers, you let us know.  Is GE creating jobs, or outsourcing?