Report: China trade imbalance has cost 2.7 million U.S. jobs

Posted: August 25, 2012

Even as China's manufacturing sector slumped in August, its trade imbalance with the United States has cost this country 2.7 million jobs over 10 years, according to a study released Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

By real numbers, Pennsylvania was one of the states most affected by the growing U.S. trade deficit, with 101,200 jobs lost - most in manufacturing - between 2001 and 2011.

California, Texas, New York, Illinois, North Carolina, and Florida lost more. New Jersey lost 76,000 jobs and Delaware lost 5,000, the report said.

"The EPI report offers convincing evidence that, unless China's trade violations and currency manipulation are challenged forcefully, our growing trade deficit will continue to cripple the fledgling U.S. jobs recovery," Scott Paul, director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said in a statement.

The alliance is a partnership of manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union.

Particularly hurt were areas such as California that specialized in computer and electronic products. Job loss in that sector reached nearly 1.1 million, and some of those were in manufacturing.

In total, the report said, 2.1 million of the 2.7 million lost jobs were in manufacturing, accounting for more than half of the U.S. manufacturing jobs that disappeared in the last 10 years.

By percentage, New Hampshire suffered most, with 3 percent of its jobs affected. New Jersey's loss was 1.8 percent and Pennsylvania's 1.74 percent.

The situation also impacts companies that supply manufacturers, said Robert L. Aker Jr., chief operating officer of the National Tooling & Machining Association, an Ohio-based trade group.

Small tool-and-die manufacturers find it difficult to compete against Chinese companies that have fewer safety and environmental requirements, Aker said.

Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers face their own challenges as the Chinese economy has been languishing for months.

A closely watched barometer of China's economic performance - a monthly survey that measures the conditions in the giant manufacturing sector - slumped sharply in August, reaching its lowest level since late last year.

"A drop of this magnitude ... unambiguously spells trouble," said Yao Wei, a China economist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.


This article contains information from the Associated Press.

Contact Jane M. Von Bergen at jvonbergen@phillynews.com, @JaneVonBergen on Twitter, or at 215-854-2769. Read her workplace blog at www.philly.com/jobbing.

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