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Business Roundtable: Trade and American Jobs

Authors: Laura Baughman, and Joseph Francois
February 1, 2007



U.S. trade has been expanding and, with it, U.S. employment. An economic study conducted for the Business Roundtable found that more than 31 million U.S. jobs depended on trade in 2004. That means nearly one in every five U.S. jobs are linked to exports and imports of goods and services.

The analysis is the first estimate of the net number of U.S. jobs, both nationally and by state, that depend on U.S. exports and imports of both goods and services. The key findings of the new study are:

-Total net U.S. jobs dependent on total U.S. trade exceeded 31 million in 2004. Nearly one in every five U.S. jobs is positively linked to exports and imports of goods and services.

-Contrary to popular belief, the net impact of trade on the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs is positive.

-Every U.S. state has realized net employment gains directly attributable to trade.

-As U.S. trade -- both exports and imports -- has grown over the past decade, caused in part by trade liberalizing international agreements, so has the number of U.S. jobs tied to trade.

In 1992, a year prior to the implementation of a long string of multilateral and bilateral trade liberalizing agreements, net total trade-related employment in the United States totaled approximately 14 million jobs, one in ten U.S. workers.

By 2004 the comparable trade-related employment estimate had more than doubled, representing nearly one in five U.S. workers. Past estimates of trade-related employment either vastly underestimate the number of U.S. jobs tied to trade, or they suffer from serious estimation flaws that bias their results. This study represents the first comprehensive look at total and employs a methodology that accounts for trade gains as well as losses, and that covers services as well as goods trade.

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