Sometimes it’s a series of lucky breaks that turn an economy around.
In the U.S., the discovery of abundant reserves of natural gas is one of those bits of luck. Because new technologies, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (known as "fracking"), have significantly lowered the cost of extracting gas from shale rock, some of the largest chemical companies with plants overseas are reinvesting in factories in the U.S. and hoping to take advantage of this new inexpensive -- relative to oil -- energy source.
“The discovery of shale gas is an American manufacturing renaissance if handled well,” said Andrew N. Liveris, chairman, CEO, and president of the Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW). “It makes America a low-cost jurisdiction for any energy-intensive manufacturing of the value-add kind.”
“Manufacturing does have associated with it the kind of job where you are tied to the production lines and plants,” said Jeffrey Bergstrand, a professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame and a former Federal Reserve economist. “There are a lot of manufacturing jobs now using technology, using computers. They are still manufacturing jobs, but they are not the ‘dirty jobs’ we often think of as manufacturing.”