General Electric has been a target for many politicians as of late, including Bernie Sanders. With a sensitive job market on the minds of many, political figures have cited the company as leaving behind the U.S. when it comes to hiring.
The numbers don’t lie: in 1995, 68 percent of the conglomerate’s total employees were located in the United States. Today? Only 38 percent of GE’s total employees are in America.
It should come as no surprise then that GE’s next major hiring wave is going to be outside of the U.S. It might come as more of a surprise that GE will be hiring 2,000 workers in Saudi Arabia, out of a $400 million forging and casting factory for the marine and energy industries.
GE’s hiring arrangement in Saudi Arabia is part of a larger $1.4 billion investment in the nation that will double its workforce there. It will be a part of the Saudi’s “Vision 2030” economic plan to decrease unemployment, while diversifying the types of firms and industries in the country beyond oil.
For his part, Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, has denied any accusations that GE is trying to avoid manufacturing in the U.S. due to having to pay higher wages. Rather, he claims that manufacturing abroad can help open up new markets abroad.
If nothing else, it is an interesting gamble. GE’s presence will certainly help; the Middle East nation has a 29 percent unemployment rate among youth. Many firms look at Saudi Arabia’s future as being fairly dim, which has scared off many other investors.
Only time will tell if GE’s bet will pay off not just socially, but economically.