Trump effect? IBM announces U.S. hiring surge prior to tech summit

This is a headline that I’ve been hoping to see for more than fifteen years, assuming it actually comes to fruition. One of the earliest and biggest leaders in the process of dumping American workers in high paying, manufacturing and tech sector jobs and shipping them overseas was IBM. The computer giant has decimated entire communities in the United States while turning the idea of customer care call centers and software development offices in India into a standard item for late night comics. But now, on the eve of a summit including the President Elect and tech industry leaders, International Business Machines seems to have had a change of heart and is promising to bring tens of thousands of jobs back home. (Daily Mail)

US technology giant IBM has said it will hire 25,000 people in the United States over the next four years, ahead of a meeting between President-elect Donald Trump and tech industry leaders.

About 6,000 of those appointments will be made in 2017, IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty wrote in opinion article published in USA Today.

IBM, which has undertaken in recent years a restructuring of its activities, will invest $1 billion on employee training and development in the next four years, said the IBM president, chairman and CEO.

There were a number of cities and towns where IBM’s exodus of jobs created havoc, primarily in upstate New York. People have been writing about this for years and the numbers tell a depressing tale. The company’s American workforce began to plunge in the 90s and the decline has continued steadily, shedding another 30,000 American jobs in the past ten years. During that same period, IBM’s workforce in India rose from 9,000 to 75,000 and they also expanded aggressively in South America.

The village of Endicott, New York was the home to IBM’s largest industrial campus. A look at a map of the area from the 80s shows a series of dozens of massive buildings which took up the lion’s share of the north side of the village. Generations of families worked there in fields from manufacturing to software development and accounting to janitorial services. At this point all of those buildings have been sold off and the company rents out a small section of a few for their remaining workforce. The economy of the area essentially collapsed. I personally know far, far too many people who saw their careers terminated just short of the retirement their parents and grandparents had worked toward with their final assignments being to train their replacements in India, Brazil or elsewhere.

Now, assuming this announcement is sincere, the company will find a way to begin bringing those jobs home. (Which the jaded part of me continues to insist I shouldn’t believe until I actually see it.) This situation is a parallel to the recent story about US Steel we covered here. It begs one question which both media analysts and elected officials need to be answering for everyone. You can call it the Trump Effect or coincidence or a shift in culture…. whatever you like. But was it really this easy all along? And if so, how is it that nobody made it happen before now?