Credit: REUTERS/Chris Keane
Donald Trump is not anti-technology, but seems unimpressed by the U.S. tech industry. He doesn't fawn over it, and sees its behavior as part of a larger problem. As a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump quickly proposed restricting the use of H-1B visas to protect U.S. jobs, and by doing so attacked a top legislative priority for the tech industry.
He is now taking aim at one of tech's most successful companies, Apple, for its overseas manufacturing.
Trump's attack on Apple came at the very end -- in the last two minutes -- of his speech Monday at Liberty University. "We're going to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries," said Trump.
Apple is Trump's new proxy company to make a point about jobs. He's already been all over Ford for moving some manufacturing jobs outside the U.S.
Trump has a lot to work with. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that over the next 10 years, high-tech manufacturing jobs will decline from 24% to 35%.
This sector has been shrinking for years. The computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing sector employed nearly 163,000 people in 2014, according to the government data, but this sector will lose 27% of its employment by 2024.
Trump's suggested remedy is a tariff. In talking about Ford's manufacturing plants in Mexico, Trump said he would impose a 35% tax on the manufactured imports.
"I'm a free trader," said Trump at Liberty, but he said the U.S. has to be "smart" about it because "we're getting killed."
Not everyone was impressed by Trump's plan. "A 35% import tariff would push the world and the U.S. into a deep recession," said Andrew Bartels, an analyst at Forrester who reports on tech markets.
There are some signs that manufacturing is coming back into the U.S., and even Apple has brought some manufacturing back, albeit in a highly automated facility. (Manufacturing's real gross domestic product rose by 1.2% in the first half of 2015, which is the latest available data.)
"But on the negative side, automation means that any increase in U.S. manufacturing activity is not going to translate into much growth in manufacturing jobs," said Bartels. "So, no, I don't see anything that is going change the downward trend in manufacturing employment," he said.
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