Monday, August 1, 2011

As U.S. Productivity “Surge” of 2007-09 Melts Away, Foxconn to Replace Workers With One Million Robots; Solves Suicide Problem

Now is the time we juxtapose. First up, Mandel on Innovation:
Until this morning, the official data showed that the U.S. productivity growth accelerated during the financial crisis. Nonfarm business productivity growth supposedly went from a 1.2% annual rate in 2005-2007, to a 2.3% annual rate in 2007-2009.  Many commentators suggested that this productivity gain, in the face of great disruptions, showed the flexibility of the U.S. economy.

Uh, oh. The latest revision of the national income accounts, released this morning, makes the whole productivity acceleration vanish. Nonfarm business productivity growth in the 2007-09 period has now been cut almost in half, down to only  1.4% per year.

This revision has political and policy consequences...MORE
And from Xinhua:
Foxconn to replace workers with 1 million robots in 3 years
SHENZHEN, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, late Friday.

The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers, said Gou at a workers' dance party Friday night.
The company currently has 10,000 robots and the number will be increased to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years, according to Gou.

Foxconn, the world's largest maker of computer components which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia, is in the spotlight after a string of suicides of workers at its massive Chinese plants, which some blamed on tough working conditions.

The company currently employs 1.2 million people, with about 1 million of them based on the Chinese mainland.

If you remember, Foxconn experienced clusters of employee suicides that Apple found embarrassing. 
Problem solved!

 Speaking of embarrassing, I wonder what the politicians are thinking? 

A year ago the headline were "Foxconn to Hire 400,000 China Workers Within a Year" and folks were probably hearing the Mandarin equivalent of "These are good jobs, that can't be outsourced..."

Now they'd have to add "...Except to our new robotic overlords"

(Don't email, I know the 400k new jobs were outside of Shenzhen and the robots are going in at the H.Q. campuses, Reuters has more)