It’s sad when stories that announce the creation of a couple hundred jobs manufacture so many big headlines across the United States – and the world, for that matter.

Prime examples:

  • Apple’s announcement last week that it is returning some Mac PC manufacturing to the U.S.
  • Lenovo’s decision to add a manufacturing line next year in the Triad.

Sure, the news is good, especially for the few people to be hired and the others who might land jobs to help provide services for the manufacturing to be done. The companies’ efforts are worthy of praise.

After all, we need every job we can get.

But technology has changed manufacturing – and few people will be needed to produce millions of machines.

Besides, to quote Yogi Berra, this is all dejavu all over again in North Carolina for anyone with a memory.

Remember Dell?

In the old days – back before the Internet and technology revolution of the 1990s – the announcement that personal computers being built in the U.S. would mean big numbers of new jobs.

Dell was really late to the game when it announced in 2004 that a massive 750,000 square foot manufacturing plant would be built in Winston-Salem.

Politicians and the media went absolutely gaga over the news.

Just two years ago almost to the day that Apple’s decision was announced, Winston-Salem finished shutting down what became a costly white elephant.

At its peak, the Dell WS-1 complex as it was called employed some 1,400 people.

Then the jobs were offshored – well, technically, moved south of the border to Mexico in order for Dell to cut costs.

Now we have Lenovo bringing 115 jobs or so to a new production line at its distribution facility in the Triad.

But how long will they last?

The PC business is as cut-throat as any on the planet where profit margins measure in the cents-per-dollar.

How long will the PC manufacturing jobs exist as the industry itself continues to suffer from a global shit to tablets?

To Lenovo’s credit, the world’s likely next No. 1 PC manufacturer is focused more on providing services related to its PCs and servers, NOT just selling hardware.

Those packages just could pay off financially and perhaps lead to even more jobs in the future.

But as a Bloomberg story reports today, the number of jobs that Apple and Lenovo as well as others will produce strictly linked to manufacturing is small. Very small.

At Least the state of North Carolina and local governments haven’t shoveled tons of taxpayer money into a white elephant – again – in the Triad.

So far, anyway.

[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out seven years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]