NEW YORK _ Made-in-Japan and Made-in-Germany labels once made
U.S. workers fear for their jobs. Now the jobs themselves are
made overseas _ and Americans are grateful.
While scores of U.S. corporations are slashing payrolls,
companies such as Mercedes, BMW and Toshiba are creating
thousands of jobs in this country by opening new factories and
expanding existing ones. Foreign investment here has surged this
year, reversing a three-year decline.
The trend, some economists say, could give a small but timely
boost to the fragile U.S. recovery, which has been undermined by
widespread layoffs as companies struggle to pare costs.
It also suggests a brighter side to the rapid globalization of
U.S. business, decried in the past for shipping jobs overseas in
American industries ranging from textiles to electronics.
"However you cut this, this is good for the United States,"
said Paul Boltz, chief economist at T. Rowe Price Associates
Inc., a Baltimore-based investment management firm.
To be sure, American businesses also are hiring workers, but
large-scale layoffs have overshadowed any gains. Even healthy
companies like Procter Gamble Co. and Anheuser-Busch Cos. are
By contrast, Mercedes-Benz will announce today its choice of
Alabama as site of the automaker's first U.S. factory, which will
employ 1,500 workers.
Last year, South Carolina won a multi-state competition for a
plant from BMW, Mercedes' German rival in the luxury car market.
BMW expects to begin production in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1995.
Indeed, any stigma patriotic workers used to attach to working
for a foreign employer has been largely forgotten in today's
"If you ask most workers, there once was a lot of concern
about who was the management. But a lot of that concern has
dissipated," said Lynn Reaser, chief economist at First
Interstate Bancorp in Los Angeles. "A lot of foreign companies
will maintain U.S. management."
The story of foreign company interest in the United States is
told in the numbers. Direct foreign investment here rose to $17
billion in the first half of 1993, up sharply from $2.4 billion
for all of last year, Commerce Department figures show.
A previous surge in foreign investment in the 1980s mostly
went toward buying existing American firms, not creating new
jobs, said Robert Z. Aliber, professor of international economics
and finance at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of