Getting phone-based customer service from operators in India may seem an inevitable part of life in America, but the next call-center voice you hear might be much closer to home. With high U.S. unemployment dragging down wages here as Indian wages continue to rise, it's becoming as cheap to hire operators in the U.S. as it is overseas, India's largest outsourcing firm tells the Financial Times. Does this mean that India will be outsourcing jobs to the U.S. now? And should the U.S. welcome these jobs?
These aren't the jobs America needs: "To unemployed Americans," the real possibility of outsourced Indian call centers coming back to the U.S. "may be welcome news," says Drew Sandholm at CNBC. But it isn't great news for America. We're still shipping the good jobs to places like India — the low-paying jobs being sent back here "because of cost advantage" won't bring any "sustainable boost to U.S. employment."
"Outsourcing to the U.S.?"
Americans welcome the work: This trend could benefit a wide range of unemployed Americans, says Ann All in IT Business Edge. Indian companies aren't just exporting call-center jobs — some are finding they can save money by hiring seasoned executives in the U.S., too. And these days many Americans are open to working at home, and ready to accept lower salaries, so they'll likely welcome the work.
"Indian outsourcers looking to capitalize on U.S. unemployment"
At least U.S. customers will be happy: Call-centers jobs aren't like manufacturing jobs, since "logistical issues are irrelevant" and location doesn't matter, says Yves Smith in Naked Capitalism. So it makes sense for them to flow back to the U.S. when wages are low. And since many "U.S. customers resent dealing with foreign operators," it makes sense PR-wise, too.
"So much for workers in India being cheaper"
Don't get your hopes up: Outsourcing firms may move jobs out of India as wages there rise, says Jared Mondschein in Foreign Policy, but Americans won't necessarily get the work. Indian companies are looking for cheap labor wherever they can find it, so many of these call-center jobs will go to Africa, the Middle East, and even Europe.
"Call centers coming home to America?"