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McKinsey: Multinational Companies in Growth and Competitiveness in the U.S.

June 2010


Although U.S. multinationals include many of biggest companies in the United States, the full extent of their economic impacts are less well known. The McKinsey Global Institute seeks to provide a fuller picture by assessing the contributions of MNCs across the key metrics of economic performance.

US multinationals represent less than 1 percent of all US companies, yet they contribute disproportionately to the US economy's growth and health in many ways.

US multinationals accounted for 23 percent of US private sector GDP (or value added) in 2007. However, they contributed 31 percent of the growth in real GDP and 41 percent of US gains in labor productivity since 1990. US multinationals' outsized contributions to productivity growth matter greatly because productivity increases have delivered nearly three-quarters of US real GDP growth since 2000, with the rest coming from employment gains—the reverse of the situation 30 years ago.

US MNCs also have outsized impact across other metrics.

While their activities create 23 percent of US private sector value added, they account for larger shares of productivity growth and US private R&D spending. They pay higher average wages than other US companies. They account for almost half of the nation's exports and more than a third of its imports, resulting in a more favorable trade balance than other US companies. US multinationals also exert a significant indirect, or "multiplier," effect on the economy, which magnifies their contributions further.

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