The flight from Vietnam’s industrial heartland in the south — with the government estimating over 2 million may vacate — followed an increasingly strict lockdown that started in July to combat the delta variant. Factories slowed or closed, wiping out months of production for companies such as Nike Inc. and exacerbating problems in a global supply chain already in disarray.
Now staff-starved companies are imploring workers like My to return for what would normally be peak production for winter clothing and Christmas gifts. The government is offering transportation back and companies are upping pay and benefits, but little is working.
While small, Vietnam plays an out-sized role in the global consumer economy, supplying everything from Walmart Inc. furniture and Adidas AG sneakers to Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones. After China, it’s the second-largest supplier of clothes and shoes to the U.S., according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Its importance increased during the trade war between the U.S. and China as manufacturing moved there to avoid tariffs.