Moser's group is helping other states with their reshoring efforts. In Pennsylvania and Mississippi the Reshoring Initiative is partnering with economic development offices to pinpoint products and parts being imported to the state and to identify the companies bringing them in. Armed with that knowledge, these economic development officials can approach those companies with information about which firms can make the goods locally.
"Often, the pushback we get is that wages are too high domestically," explained Moser. In that case, his group works with the company to determine the total cost of ownership, including the duty, freight, packaging and transportation costs associated with producing the goods overseas. In about 25 percent of the cases, he added, "the company finds out it makes sense to bring the work back to the state."
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And while Moser and others believe that the reshoring trend will continue, they do acknowledge challenges exist. "There is a shortage of some types of skilled labor, such as toolmakers and precision machinists, here in the U.S., and that can slow down the implementation of reshoring," Moser said. "That's going to take a change in perception in business and the educational community that manufacturing jobs are not dirty and dangerous but rather that they require a more educated workforce."
Even so, Moser said he is heartened by his firm's research. It shows that new reshoring is balancing out new offshoring at about 40,000 manufacturing jobs per year. "That's the first neutral year of manufacturing jobs losses and gains in about 20 years," he explained.
A zero-sum game might not seem like anything to cheer about, but after decades of losing manufacturing jobs to other countries, it's certainly a step in the right direction.
—By Susan Caminiti, special to CNBC.com