Despite Rhetoric, United States Outsourced Less Than 3,000 Jobs In 2012

Michigan lost aboout 79 jobs to other countries last year

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The outsourcing of U.S. jobs to other countries has been a political hot button during presidential debates and Michigan gubernatorial elections.

One poll found it to be the top concern of Michigan residents age 18-29. 

Yet, there were only 2,687 jobs outsourced to other countries in the entire U.S. in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS report calculates the figures quarterly and lists them as "out-of-country relocations."

With over 134 million jobs in the U.S., that means about 1 in every 50,000 was shipped to another country last year. The BLS doesn’t separate the data by state because of concerns over company privacy. However, based on a general calculation using the numbers available and factoring in Michigan's share of jobs in the nation, that means about 79 of the state's nearly 4 million jobs were outsourced to other countries last year.

By comparison, Michigan exported $56.9 billion of goods to other countries in 2012.

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"I think [outsourcing] is just blown out of proportion," said Don Byrne, a former University of Detroit Mercy economics professor who now is an adjunct finance professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

Nicholas Aakre, a researcher with the BLS, said the data doesn’t necessarily capture every job that moves overseas. He said there are a significant number of job relocations in which the employer is unaware of how many jobs are impacted.

James Hohman, a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said it was a myth that countries like China are taking a lot of U.S. jobs.

"Few companies take U.S. jobs overseas, yet this is the most overstated economic fear," Hohman said. "Most jobs are gained and lost due to regular turnover; only a microscopic fraction is lost due to plants relocating abroad. This means that improving the economy requires improving the business climate for everyone."

The number of U.S. jobs leaving the country has shrunk over time. In 2004, there were 16,197 jobs that went to other countries. That dropped to 10,378 in 2009 and 3,826 in 2011.


See also:

Outsourcing Isn't The Problem

Michigan's Mixed Messages On Trade With China

Michigan Exports to China Grow


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Ted Nelson is a retired Michigan State Police officer who trained police departments throughout the state on civil asset forfeiture. He believes the practice has been misused and needs to change.

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