U.S. factories are making stuff again as CEOs pull out of China

Rattled by the most recent wave of strict Covid lockdowns in China, the long-time manufacturing hub of choice for multinationals, CEOs have been highlighting plans to relocate production — using the buzzwords onshoring, reshoring or nearshoring — at a greater clip this year than they even did in the first six months of the pandemic, according to a review of earnings call and conference presentations transcribed by Bloomberg. (Compared to pre-pandemic periods, these references are up over 1,000%.)

The construction of new manufacturing facilities in the US has soared 116% over the past year, dwarfing the 10% gain on all building projects combined, according to Dodge Construction Network. There are massive chip factories going up in Phoenix: Intel is building two just outside the city; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is constructing one in it. And aluminum and steel plants that are being erected all across the south: in Bay Minette, Alabama (Novelis); in Osceola, Arkansas (US Steel); and in Brandenburg, Kentucky (Nucor). Up near Buffalo, all this new semiconductor and steel output is fueling orders for air compressors that will be cranked out at an Ingersoll Rand plant that had been shuttered for years.

Scores of smaller companies are making similar moves, according to Richard Branch, the chief economist at Dodge. Not all are examples of reshoring. Some are designed to expand capacity. But they all point to the same thing — a major re-assessment of supply chains in the wake of port bottlenecks, parts shortages and skyrocketing shipping costs that have wreaked havoc on corporate budgets in the US and across the globe.