Debate over how many jobs the United States loses to China has gone on for years. Today, China is one of the two largest manufacturing economies in the world. The other is the United States. Many labor groups and politicians are at work trying to tip factory activity back to the U.S. — a difficult task to accomplish when companies send work to China to bring labor costs down. So, in many cases, China cannot be blamed for the shift in workers.
In a recent study, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analyzed American jobs lost to China between 2001 and 2011. During that time, “the trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced more than 2.7 million U.S. jobs, over 2.1 million of which were in manufacturing,” according to the report. Based on the study, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states that experienced the most job loss as a result of the deficit between 2001 and 2011.
Some industries were affected more than others. Between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. trade deficit with China grew $217.5 billion, with U.S. imports of computer and electronic parts, including computer, semiconductors and audio-video equipment, making up 55% of the total. Of the 2.1 million manufacturing jobs lost, more than 1 million were from the computer and electronic products category.
As a result, many of the states that lost the most jobs have congressional districts with high concentrations of technology jobs. According to the report, states like California and Texas have congressional districts with heavy focus on tech. Four of the five congressional districts with the highest proportional decline — California’s 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th — are in the tech-heavy San Francisco Bay area. The other is Texas’s 31st district, which forms part of Austin, also home to many of the nation’s largest technology companies.
Districts in some states, including Georgia and Alabama, “were especially hard-hit by job displacement in a variety of manufacturing industries, including computers and electronic products, textiles and apparel, and furniture,” according to EPI. Out of the country’s 435 congressional districts, Georgia’s 9th district is among the top 25 for job loss. The district includes the city of Dalton, which is home to manufacturers, including many prominent upholstery corporations.
Despite the talk of a manufacturing resurgence, Robert Scott, the author of the EPI study, calls this “hot air.” He notes that 50,000 manufacturing facilities have been closed since 2001 with very few coming back anytime soon. He suggests the only way to do get a manufacturing resurgence off the ground is for the federal government to crack down on China’s currency manipulation and to get American companies to truly invest in manufacturing. “There is a lack of willingness to put that in place,” Scott said. “Standing by and hoping manufacturing is going to get better isn’t going to work.”
24/7 Wall St. identified the states losing the most jobs to China based on EPI’s report, “The China Toll.” In order to reflect how much the trade deficit has affected state and local economies, we considered states that lost the most jobs relative to the population. On this basis, small states like New Hampshire and Vermont have been just as hurt when worker migration is compared to total jobs in each state. 24/7 Wall St. also reviewed the level of export activity and job losses in the 50 states and 435 congressional districts relative to the number of people employed by state. The relative growth rate of gross domestic product for each state for 2011 and between 2008 and 2011 is based on data from the EPI report. The July 2012 unemployment rate by state is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What emerges from these figures is that the shift of jobs to China does not spare any state based on its unemployment rate or GDP growth. Nor does it spare any single industry or sector, from technology to shoe making. China’s ability to take jobs from the U.S. stretches across nearly every aspect of the American economy.
These are the 10 states losing the most jobs to China.