The answer the Times found is both simple and chilling: iPhones aren’t made in America because they just can’t be. The infrastructure and labor force doesn’t exist at the levels necessary to support Apple’s operations — it’s not even close.
The Chinese factory where most iPhones reach final assembly employs 230,000 workers. I just asked Siri how many cities in the US have a population higher than that, and the answer was a mere 83 cities — and that’s total population, not workforce. With an average labor force of around 65 percent of the population, only 50 US cities are large enough to provide that kind of labor pool… and even in the biggest US city of them all, New York, 230,000 people still amounts to almost three percent of the city’s entire population. Can you imagine three out of every hundred New Yorkers on an assembly line, cranking out iPhones every day?
Now that the presidential election is over, we can have an honest discussion on manufacturing. These are not jobs that we want or even can compete in with China and the rest of the global economy. They were a wonderful source of middle class jobs while they lasted, but what we’re talking about needs to shift to how we create those jobs in other industries.¬