Well, what do you know? Maybe putting General Electric's (NYSE: GE) CEO on the president's job panel wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Oh, I know President Barack Obama caught some flak when he picked Jeff Immelt to chair the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness back in January. Then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) criticized Immelt and GE for "creating more jobs overseas while reducing its American workforce." (And that wasn't even the worst criticism. ) But daily exposure to the plight of the American worker seems to have helped Immelt "see the light."

In a press conference last week, Immelt confirmed that 60% of GE's forecast $145 billion in revenue this year will come from outside U.S. borders. But nearly 46% of the company's employees are based within the U.S. and Immelt plans to grow that number as the conglomerate capitalizes on "tremendous demand" for heavy machinery abroad. According to Immelt, GE has streamlined its manufacturing processes to such an extent that labor now makes up only 10% to 20% of its cost of goods sold.

"Higher-quality, lower-cost, more productive" American workers are finally starting to hold their own in the war for jobs against foreign labor.

Hooray?
Now granted, the $14.2 billion that GE earned last year, but paid no taxes on, may have had just a teensy bit to do with its hiring plans. Strong foreign demand for its products, coupled with a relatively weak U.S. dollar, helps make U.S. goods more cost competitive abroad. But by the same token, if GE's strong international profits are helping create jobs here rather than there, then maybe we shouldn't complain.

As Mesirow Financial chief economist Diane Swonk observed on Meet the Press on Sunday, America is currently enjoying "a renaissance in the manufacturing sector." It's not across-the-board -- Honeywell's (NYSE: HON) CEO also appeared on television yesterday, for example, and he's been less upbeat on hiring. But heavy manufacturers such as Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), which does more than half its business abroad, and automakers Ford (NYSE: F) and General Motors (NYSE: GM), which are close to 50-50, are all earning good money abroad. And yes -- they're accelerating hiring in the U.S.

Foolish takeaway
Seems to me, the president's decision to put GE's CEO on the jobs council may yet pay off for manufacturing workers. And as I've already said, I'm pretty sure GE stock will pay off for investors -- now more than ever.

What's next for General Electric's industrial revolution? Add it to your watchlist and find out.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of (or short) any company named above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford Motor and General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.