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America's middle class is in trouble. Here's what that fact means for the world's largest economy — and the rest of planet earth.
 

Foxconn riots: Good news for US middle class?

How unrest in China's factory economy might affect middle-class manufacturing jobs in America.
Foxconn apple labor 2012 4 4Enlarge
Participants dressed up to represent Foxconn workers take part in a protest against the Taiwanese technology giant, which manufactures Apple products in mainland China, outside an Apple retail outlet in Hong Kong on May 7, 2011. At least 13 Foxconn employees died in apparent suicides last year, which rights activists blamed on tough working conditions in a case that highlighted the challenges faced by millions of Chinese factory workers. (ANTONY DICKSON/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — There's been more trouble at Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics company that supplies many US technology giants — including the parts for Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Details are still murky, but it seems a riot broke out at one of the company's factories in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan.

Foxconn has suspended production there as it sorts out the latest mess.

Here's how the New York Times put it:

"Unconfirmed photographs and video circulated on social networking sites, purporting to be from the factory, showed smashed windows, riot police officers and large groups of workers milling around. The Foxconn plant, in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, employs about 79,000 workers."

Foxconn, of course, has had of problems over the years, ranging from alleged rights abuses to pay and other working conditions complaints. GlobalPost documented these stories and others in our award-winning reporting series Silicon Sweatshops and its follow-up.

But could trouble in China spell good news for middle class workers in America?

That's the point of an interesting post today by Jeff Macke at Yahoo Finance.

Macke makes the case that a variety of factors — think higher transportation costs, management challenges, cultural difficulties — are eroding the logic behind shipping these kinds of jobs overseas.

Most importantly, due to globalization wages around the world are going up and it's only a matter of time before the world runs out of countries where people "will assemble our widgets for 50 cents a day."

All of this is a good thing — Macke's argument goes — because it raises living standards abroad and directs investment back into the US, where companies are already finding a ready-made manufacturing base to employ.

Here's a sample:

"The U.S. middle class is being reborn even as it's being declared dead. Jobs will be created in America again. It's inevitable, and a very horrific incident like what happened at Foxconn speeds up the process."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/foxconn-riots-good-news-us-middle-class