Does the Import of Manufactured Goods Destroy US Jobs?

One of the implications of being home rather than at school is that at home not everyone has drunk the economics Kool-Aid, so to speak.  I have to grapple with opinions that I never hear around campus.  One frequently raised issue is trade with China, more specifically the effects of importing of manufacturing goods and having a negative balance of trade on manufacturing jobs and the US economy as a whole.  Many people at home think that the negative balance of trade destroys US manufacturing as Americans buy more imported goods.

Russel Roberts, the host of Econtalk, has a great essay responding to this point of view available here.  You will have to check out the original for the excellent charts that back up each of his claims, but his main points are the following:

1. Even though the United States has only run a persistent trade deficit since 1976, the long term increasing job creation trend did not change after 1976.

2. The relative number of manufacturing jobs to other American jobs has declined steadily since World War II, with no trend change in 1976.

3. During the same period, there have been huge productivity gains in American manufacturing.  Roberts shows that even though there are less manufacturing workers today than there were in 1959, there is 4.7 times more domestic manufacturing output today.

Roberts makes a few more points as well.  Read the whole article if you get a chance.

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5 Responses to “Does the Import of Manufactured Goods Destroy US Jobs?”

  1. Ed Farkas Says:

    I cannot believe that the negative balance of trade with China in manufactured goods has no effect on U.S. jobs. I believe that the ordinary citizen has an instinctive common sense understanding that millions and millions of jobs have been lost. The polticians and the economics experts don’t have this common sense understanding. When George Bush gave out $600 to each person, to help the economy, there were many political cartoons in which ordinary families receive their checks and say “Is this helping the American economy or the Chinese economy. Put a 50% tariff on manufactured goods coming in from China and U.S. entrepeneurs will open factories or re-open factories within months. U.S. employment will shoot up. Let’s do an experiment. Put on the tariff and see what happens!

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