Processing Magazine

Light Bulb Factory Closes Moving More Jobs Overseas

September 9, 2010
The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month, with the remaining 200 workers at the plant losing their jobs, reports the Washington Post. During the recession, political and business leaders have held out the promise that American advances, particularly in green technology, might stem the decades-long decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs. The 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. This law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs. The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences. Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China. Consisting of glass tubes twisted into a spiral, they require more hand labor, which is cheaper there. So, although American engineers developed them in the 1970s, none of the major brands make CFLs in the United States. Maybe Thomas Edison was right after all when he said, "Genius is two percent inspiration and ninety-eight percent perspiration."