NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Trade Threatens Few U.S. Jobs

October 19, 1999

The vast majority of American workers have secure jobs that aren't threatened by imports, according to a new study from the Cato Institute.

Author Dan Griswold finds that:

  • About 85 percent of America's non-farm workers are employed in services, construction and government -- sectors where import competition is minimal.
  • Workers in trade-sensitive manufacturing industries account for only 12 percent of total manufacturing workers -- and less than 2 percent of total non-farm workers.
  • Since 1980, the volume of imports to the United States has tripled -- even as the number of Americans working has increased by 31 million.
  • From 1995 through 1997, three-quarters of the 8 million American workers displaced from their jobs were employed in sectors that by their nature are relatively insulated from import competition.

The most significant causes of displacement are not trade-related, Griswold says, but stem from technological developments and other non-trade factors.

Source: Daniel T. Griswold, "Trade, Jobs and Manufacturing: Why (Almost All) U.S. Workers Should Welcome Imports," Trade Briefing Paper No. 6, September 30, 1999, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D. C. 20001, (202) 842-0200.


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