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May 24, 2021

New study shows 21m US jobs depend on imports

US trade policies, many now pending before Congress and the administration, have the potential to both support and hurt 21m jobs supported by imports. 

Eight US business organisations – including those representing apparel and footwear brands, retailers and importers – have released an economic impact study showing that imports support more than 21 million American jobs.

The report, ‘Imports Work for American Workers,’ focuses on the net impact of imports on US jobs – including statistics on sectors such as retail, apparel, transportation, manufacturing and consumer technology.

The study also looks at how imports support jobs in states across the US as well as trade policy initiatives pending before Congress and the administration with the potential to preserve or diminish import-related jobs.

Among the key findings:

  • Imports support more than 21 million American jobs across the country, including a net positive number in every US state. The 10 states accounting for the largest number of import-related jobs are California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
  • Imports from key trading partners – including Canada, China, the European Union and Mexico – support a net positive number of US jobs.
  • Import-related jobs are good jobs that pay competitive wages. Nearly 8 million of the jobs related to importing are held by minorities and 2.5 million jobs are held by workers represented by unions.
  • The vast majority (96%) of companies who import are small or medium-sized businesses.
  • US trade policies, many now pending before Congress and the administration, have the potential to both support and hurt these jobs.

“USFIA supports Fashion Made Possible by Global Trade,” says Julia Hughes, president of the US Fashion Industry Association, one of the organisations that commissioned the study. “American fashion brands and retailers rely on American workers for the research, product development and design, logistics, sourcing, sales teams and creativity to make the products that consumers want to wear.

“As the report says, ‘Bottom line: no matter where the label places the origin of the apparel product, the fact remains that it likely includes a lot of content from US workers, in America.'”

AAFA senior vice president of policy, Nate Herman, adds: “Imports to the United States are critical to the health of the U.S. economy and to providing diverse, quality goods to American consumers.

“Imports are also key to the US global value chain, directly employing millions of American workers in product development, sourcing, and compliance that turn those designs into product; the transportation and logistics managers, warehouse workers, the truckers who ensure that product makes it to market; and the merchandisers and salespeople who get that product sold.”

The study is being released during “World Trade Week” as part of “World Trade Month” to highlight the essential role that imports play in the US and global economy.

It was prepared by Laura M Baughman and Dr Joseph F Francois of Trade Partnership Worldwide, and also supported by the American Chemistry Council, the Consumer Technology Association, the National Foreign Trade Council, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the US Global Value Chain Coalition.

The full report can be viewed here

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