NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Economic Destiny

March 15, 2004

Since 1995, manufacturing employment has dropped 11 percent in the United States -- and 15 percent in China. Where did all those jobs go? To a "country" called productivity. It takes fewer workers to make our products and deliver our services than ever before says Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Without question, some have lost jobs due to changes wrought by higher productivity and technology. These concerns have spread to services. Everyone agrees we should do more to help these citizens and create new jobs. How?

  • Extending unemployment benefits will help on a humanitarian level, but it will not create jobs.
  • Raising taxes would kill jobs, especially if those tax hikes fall on the key job creators -- the millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs who pay their taxes at individual rates.

Retreating to economic isolationism is the worst response, yet 30 states and Congress are considering laws to punish companies that source around the world to provide the best products at the cheapest prices for U.S. consumers. Given our stake in the global economy and real risk of retaliation, can we afford to build walls around our economy?

Here's a better approach:

  • Make our country a more attractive place to create and keep jobs by reining in excessive lawsuits, regulations and taxes.
  • Invest in our roads, power supply and broadband technology.
  • Improve education and training (today's unemployment rate among Americans with a bachelor's degree is under 4 percent).

Finally, let's end the defeatism. In the 1970s and 1980s, so-called economic experts warned the United States was being overtaken by Germany and Japan. Today they're wringing their hands over India and China. If we have learned anything from the past few decades, it is that we control our economic destiny, says Donohue.

Source: Thomas J. Donohue, "End Economic Defeatism," USA Today, March 15, 2004.

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