One example is Allstate Insurance Co., which in June opened a $12-million call center in San Antonio, where the company expects to have 600 employees by year's end. Customer sales and service reps earn a base salary of $27,000.
In picking Texas, the Northbrook, Ill., firm passed up sites in India and the Philippines, said Thomas Wilson, Allstate's chairman.
"I'm a believer in offshoring," Wilson said in an interview, noting that his overseas offices have helped Allstate operate around the clock and compete with rivals that also have gone abroad for services.
But even though labor will cost more in San Antonio than in India, Wilson hopes for a bit of a public relations boost from the move.
In a customer survey, he said, "81% of the people said they would think better of the company even if it costs more."