THE BLOG
09/01/2014 04:21 pm ET | Updated Nov 01, 2014

Did Washington Stab Working Americans in the Back?

It's official: Trade with poor countries has destroyed millions of American jobs and lives. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms what working people have long known: Imports from China are responsible for the loss of over 2 million jobs between 1999 and 2011. That's about 1 percent of the entire work force.

What's even more shocking is that Washington knew this was happening all along.

It wasn't just industries that faced direct competition from imports that shed jobs. Companies supplying raw materials to domestic industries that were replaced by Chinese imports saw decreased demand for their products and they laid off workers as well.

Businesses completely unrelated to manufacturing or trade were affected too. For example, when an auto-parts plant (or its supplier) closed, the bars, beauty salons and retailers in town had a tough time keeping their doors open. That made it even harder for the laid off factory worker to find a job as a hairdresser or bartender no matter what kind of "retraining" he or she had.

The researchers took into account 560,000 jobs that were lost because of the ongoing decline in the size of the U.S. manufacturing workforce due to automation, NAFTA and other factors. Even after factoring that in, the study concludes:

Combining figures from exposed and non-exposed industries, the overall local impact is 2.37 million jobs whose loss would have been averted absent further increases in Chinese import competition after 1999...This estimate is a lower bound on the aggregate total impact of increased import competition from China on national employment.

It gets worse. The findings in this study, as well as earlier studies, are based on readily available government statistics. The government tracks trade data. The Social Security Administration tracks how many hours Americans are working, in what industries, and even in what companies. Data on individuals' earnings by employer show that Americans in industries that were competing with imports worked fewer and fewer hours as imports rose.

That suggests our government knew all along what its "open borders, import everything" policy was doing to our people. What's the point of collecting information if you don't read it and use it to inform policymakers?

While politicians talked about so-called free trade opening up new opportunities for American workers and "building a bridge to the 21st Century," information right there in a government filing cabinet was telling them how many Americans were no longer working -- and precisely who they were, where they lived and where they no longer worked.

Either the politicians didn't look at the evidence that shows outsourcing factories to China was destroying the lives of millions of American families, or they knew all along and chose to stab us in the back.

And the beat goes on. President Obama and corporatist lackies in Congress in both parties are now pushing to fast track the TransPacific Partnership, a managed "trade" deal like NAFTA that will mean more outsourcing, more imports from poor countries with dollar-an-hour wages and more power for unelected bureaucrats to rewrite our laws in secret.

You don't need a degree in economics to know this is a bad deal for America. Tell your representatives in Congress NO fast track for the job killing, Constitution-shredding, back-stabbing TransPacific Partnership.