States Losing the Most Jobs to China

China is taking American jobs, labor unions, politicians and economists, have accused for some time. The logic is simple. While a manufacturing job in the U.S. may pay $50 an hour, when salary and benefits are factored in, Chinese factory laborers make little more than a few hundred dollars a month.

With American companies moving operations to China and international companies preferring the cheaper Chinese-made goods, the Economic Policy Institute found the U.S. lost 2.8 million jobs in the past decade. While all states have been affected, 24/7 Wall St. looked at the ten states that lost the most jobs to China.

Over the past decade, American imports from China have grown much more than what the country has been able to export into it, causing a massive loss of jobs. “Between 2001 and 2010, the trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced 2.8 million jobs,” the EPI noted in a paper released this month. As would be expected, 1.9 million of those jobs, or nearly 70%, were in manufacturing, the EPI found. The greatest damage occurred in the computer and electronic parts industry, as well as several finished manufactured goods sectors such as apparel and motor vehicles and parts.

China was able to achieve manufacturing cost advantage by moving millions of laborers from rural areas to cities with newly built facilities. Even American companies such as Walmart (NYSE: WMT) cannot afford to buy goods made in the U.S. when they are made so much more efficiently — and of course, so much cheaper — abroad.

Cheap labor may well be the main reason for China’s manufacturing advantage, but currency manipulation could be another, the EPI states. While the cost of labor affected China’s exports, the currency manipulation, which happened despite China joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, distorted its imports. American policymakers have long assumed that as China’s huge middle class grew, U.S. companies’ sales to these new consumers would also grow. But it did not work out that way, the EPI reports: “as a result of China’s currency manipulation and other trade distorting practices, including extensive subsidies, legal and illegal barriers to imports, dumping and suppression of wages and labor rights, the envisioned flow of U.S. exports to China did not occur.” Added to its labor cost advantage, this currency manipulation has been devastating to many U.S. companies.

24/7 Wall St. has looked at the ten states that have had the greatest number of jobs displaced or lost to China in the past decade based on the EPI report: Growing U.S. Trade Deficit with China Cost 2.8 Million Jobs Between 2001 and 2010. We also included the number of jobs lost through imports and gained through exports due to trade with China.

The EPI research does not make an exact forecast of how many more American jobs may be lost due to China’s manufacturing cost advantages and questionable trade policies. And the damage, of course, did not suddenly end in 2010, and is almost certainly ongoing. In fact, nearly half a million jobs were lost or displaced from 2008 to 2010 alone. The joblessness problem in the U.S. is so severe that any added erosion of employment opportunities from forces outside the country will make a recovery of the American economy all the more difficult.

These are the ten states losing the most jobs to China.

10. Georgia
> Net job change: -87,700
> Jobs lost: 101,200
> Jobs gained: 13,500

Georgia has lost a significant number of jobs, primarily in industries “including computers and electronic parts, textiles and apparel, and furniture,” according to the EPI. One of the hardest hit districts in the country was the state’s 9th congressional district, which is located in the northern part of the state and includes the city of Gainesville. Georgia has historically been known for its textile industry and remains one of the top cotton-producing states in the country.

9. Massachusetts
> Net job change: -88,600
> Jobs lost: 99,300
> Jobs gained: 10,700

Two of the nation’s 20 hardest-hit congressional districts are located in Massachusetts. The first of these is the 5th congressional district, which includes the cities of Lowell, one of the country’s earliest textile centers, and Lawrence, home of a number of textile and electronics manufacturers. The state’s neighboring 3rd congressional district also lost an exceptional number of jobs. This district includes Worcester, another historically significant textile city, which has since increased its technology industry.

8. Ohio
> Net job change: -103,500
> Jobs lost: 124,100
> Jobs gained: 13,500

Ohio is one of the U.S.’s biggest manufacturing states. It is home to major companies such as Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and AK Steel Corporation (NYSE: AKS). However, the state’s manufacturing sector is declining at a faster rate than the nation’s. The automobile sector has had the highest unemployment growth since 2007, although companies in other sectors have contributed to sending jobs overseas as well.

7. Pennsylvania
> Net job change: -106,900
> Jobs lost: 127,200
> Jobs gained: 20,200

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, “Manufacturers in Pennsylvania account for 12.5 percent of the total output in the state” and employ “10 percent of the workforce.” Politicians have been outspoken about China’s effect on the state’s economy. Senator Bob Casey recently stated that “Unfair Chinese trade practices harm Pennsylvania businesses … and reduce their ability to create jobs.”

6. North Carolina
> Net job change: -107,800
> Jobs lost: 122,400
>Jobs gained: 14,600

North Carolina is home to three of the top 20 hardest hit districts in the U.S. Textiles and furniture are among the two industries that have lost the most jobs to China, according to the EPI report. North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble is co-sponsoring House Bill 639, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, to address this issue. “This bill will at least force China to compete on a level playing field with U.S. manufacturers,” Coble is quoted as saying in the Winston-Salem Journal.

5. Florida
> Net job change: -114,400
> Jobs lost: 134,500
> Jobs gained: 20,100

Florida is not normally considered to be a major manufacturing state, yet it does excel in some areas, such as medical device manufacturing. The state has lost almost 115,000 jobs to China from 2001 to 2010. Governor Rick Scott has been a supporter of business relations with China, but other local politicians have not been as hospitable. In 2007, Mayor John Mazziotti of Palm Bay proposed a ban on items made in China, stating that the city was “losing jobs left and right to them.”

4. Illinois
> Net job change: -118,200
> Jobs lost: 139,400
> Jobs gained: 21,200

Illinois is another traditional manufacturing power that has lost a significant number of jobs to China. Robert Scott, director of manufacturing and trade policy research for EPI, told Illinois WJBC radio station that “In Illinois you also have a large number of firms involved in industries like auto parts production and fabricated metal products, and those are industries that were hurt by the growth of imports from China.” China also exports lots of electronics and specialty steel — industries that were once major sectors in Illinois.

3. New York
> Net job change: -161,400
> Jobs lost: 183,300
> Jobs gained: 21,900

“New York has lost 140,000 predominantly middle-wage manufacturing jobs in recent years as a result of China’s unfair labor practices,” said James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist at the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute in the Times Union. New York Senator Chuck Schumer has made efforts to encourage China to further appreciate its currency.

2. Texas
> Net job change: -232,800
> Jobs lost: 269,300
> Jobs gained: 36,400

Texas has suffered greatly from the trade deficit with China due, largely, to the prominence of the computer and electronic parts industry in the state. Four of the top 20 congressional districts that lost the most jobs in the country are located in the state. Many Chinese companies have close ties with Texas. Two companies, Huawei and ZTE, have set up their U.S. headquarters in the state. Oil company CNOOC (NYSE: CEO) has also bought an exceptionally large amount of mineral rights in the state in order to extract shale oil.

1. California
> Net job change: -454,600
> Jobs lost: 519,000
> Jobs gained: 64,300

California has lost almost half a million jobs to China, according to EPI. Like Texas, many of these were lost in the computer and electronic parts industry. Additionally, eight of the nation’s 20 hardest hit districts are in the state. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed ways to win back jobs from China outside of the computer sector, such as green technology. In his race for governorship, Brown said that he would create thousands of clean-energy jobs, “reclaiming from China leadership of the cleantech economy.”

Charles B. Stockdale, Douglas A. McIntyre

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