Right up front, let me say that robots in factory work are not in themselves bad things.
Automating things like heavy lifting and repetitive tasks reduces on-the-job injuries, and the consistency and dependability robots bring to an assembly line make for a safer and more reliable product. That is not up for debate.
But if Donald Trump is going to brag about all the jobs he creates, he should at least know how to do math.
Bloomberg reports that the move of production to Michigan is really about building electric and self-driving cars with robots.
The U.S. automaker says abandoning its Mexico plan and instead spending $700 million to expand its domestic operations in Michigan will create just 700 jobs. Even I can work out that's $1 million per new employee hired.
The change in Mexico isn't a move out. The change is that Ford figured out they didn't actually need a new FACTORY in Mexico. They are still moving production to Mexico, just to an existing factory.
Yahoo Business ("Ford Isn't Exactly Caving to Trump") reports that the $700 billion investment will add only 700 additional jobs to the Ford plant in Michigan. Those jobs on average pay $45,000 per year.
Where is the rest of the money going? Guess.
The new investment in Michigan is essentially unrelated to the Focus or the Mexico news. Ford will spend $700 million in Michigan on new efforts to develop self-driving and electric cars, which, it says, will help create 700 new jobs. In a clever PR move, Ford announced all of this at once, with the the news of 700 additional jobs in Michigan overshadowing the fact that it is still moving the Focus production to Mexico—just to a different location.
Like Trump, Ford shareholders seem to approve. The company’s shares rose roughly 3% on a day the broader markets were flat. Investors may like the fact that Ford is reducing capacity in Mexico, which means lower costs, while possibly getting on the next president’s better side. But Focus production is … still … moving … to … Mexico.
By the way, Ford is kinda really NOT behind Trump's anti-NAFTA rhetoric. See this interview with Ford CEO Mark Fields.
RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO FINANCE: Donald Trump has been encouraging Ford and other companies to bring this kind of manufacturing back to the United States. ...Do you expect the heat to stay on, in terms of building those cars in Mexico?
MARK FIELDS, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Well, we'll have to see how things play out. I can obviously only speak to Ford, and our approach is making sure we do the right thing for our business and our shareholders. ...
Whatever they are paying their PR firm to make it look like they have moved jobs to the US and at the same time made Trump look good? It isn't enough.