Contracts are written in dollars, and as much as 60% to 80% of Indian service providers' revenue is in U.S. dollars, but more than half of their costs are incurred in rupees, according to an October report from Forrester. Indian outsourcing powerhouses like Wipro are feeling the squeeze. They've strived to cut costs, and now they're raising prices to keep margins from narrowing further. "We are relentlessly driving for higher pricing for our services and have seen price increases from our customers in the range of 3% to 6%, and our new customers are coming in at around 5% higher than our average," Wipro Chairman Azim Premji said on a conference call with investors on Jan. 18.
Duke University professor Arie Lewin estimates that the benefit of doing business, from a labor-cost point of view, in such locales as Bangalore, India, will disappear for some companies in three to four years. That's due to a combination of dollar depreciation, wage inflation, and other costs. Others say it will take longer. "Costs are escalating, so the level of labor arbitrage isn't as great as it used to be, but that's not to say labor arbitrage is disappearing, nor will it disappear in the next 10 years or so," says Sid Pai, partner and managing director of TPI India, a sourcing advisory firm.
How fast that arbitrage advantage disappears depends in part on how far and fast the US dollar drops.
IT workers in Argentina are (surprisingly) about as cheap as in India. I would not have expected that. We are told relentlessly by open borders supporters that Mexicans are dirt poor and we have to let them into the United States out of charity. Yet Mexico has about twice the salary level for IT workers as Argentina.
The average annual salary for an IT worker in the U.S. is about $75,000, according to a late 2007 report by Alsbridge, an outsourcing consulting firm. In India it's about $7,779 and in Argentina, it's slightly higher at $9,478. In Brazil, the annual wage jumps to $13,163, and in Mexico it climbs to $17,899.
Argentina, with a national average IQ 9 points above Mexico, looks like it might be an IT employer bargain. The Western Hemisphere time advantage is an important consideration in that calculation. Supervising people 12 time zones away isn't easy.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 April 17 10:04 PM Economics Labor|