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If this view is not more politically palatable, it’s because politicians view outsourcing without context. They consider the jobs lost, but not the jobs created. Just as important, they fail to factor in the jobs that are outsourced to the U.S. from foreign countries. Japanese auto manufacturers like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota have been building manufacturing plants in the U.S. since the 1990s. Today, Toyota operations in the U.S. sustain 365,000 jobs nationally and pay out over $20 billion in compensation to American workers. German firm BMW is another major outsourcer to the U.S., announcing just this January that it would invest $900 million in a Spartanburg, South Carolina factory, adding to the 7,000 jobs it has created in the state. Even India, traditionally a destination for U.S. outsourcing, is now outsourcing call center jobs to the United States, bringing the process full circle.
Cost-benefit analyses of outsourcing will never convince everyone, of course. Unions, for instance, have long blamed outsourcing for destroying the manufacturing sector in the U.S. That’s mostly false. In reality, the decline in manufacturing jobs has less to do with jobs going overseas than with improvements in technology that have replaced manual laborers. As a percentage of GDP, manufacturing has remained relatively constant in recent decades. What has changed is that the work is now more often done by machines than by men. One can lament that change or embrace it, but outsourcing is not the culprit.
Considered on a broad scale, outsourcing creates more good than harm, more wealth than economic loss. A more honest political leadership would admit as much. But busy as they are with vote pandering and mud slinging, neither presidential candidate seems up to the task.
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