GE's Immelt: U.S. manufacturing increasingly competitive  General Electric, the U.S.-based American engineering giant, has charged back from the depths of the recession, with its profit margins and earnings improving over the course of the past two years. According to a published report, the company expects its domestic manufacturing activity to expand this year.

The Chicago Tribune reports that even though global demand has helped to propel GE's growth over the past year or so, it expects its manufacturing footprint in the U.S. to continue to grow this year as "tremendous demand" builds for its industrial products, including its gas turbines, jet turbines and wind turbines.

The news comes amid reports from GE that more than 60 percent of its 2011 revenue is projected to come from abroad this year. GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt, in an interview on Wednesday, said that the company expects to log more than $145 billion in revenue during its most recent fiscal year.

The increased efficiency of the U.S. manufacturing sector, along with rising commodity prices, have both helped to push down labor costs domestically, Immelt said while touring one of GE's factories in Greenville, South Carolina.

"Having a great workforce like we do can make your products higher-quality, lower-cost, more productive," he said. "In the end the amount of money we have in materials out there dwarfs the amount we have in labor."

Immelt also said that GE plans to actively increase its strategic sourcing of materials as it works to circumvent soaring commodity prices. GE expects the global wind turbine market to grow next year and it is working to augment its production of nacelles and other components used in wind farms, the MIT Technology Review reports.

Illustrating just how competitive the U.S. manufacturing sector is, Immelt said that labor costs accounted for only 10 to 20 percent of the total cost of heavy equipment like wind turbines and engines produced domestically. The factory in South Carolina he was touring this week is currently in the midst of producing 600,000-pound wind turbines that are a part of a $3 billion order form the Iraq government.

The business cost reductions that GE has witnessed in the U.S. have helped it to free up money to hire an additional 125 workers at its Greenville plant, Immelt said. Since 2009, the company has added more than 6,500 workers to its manufacturing operations. 
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