More than three-fourths of the jobs created in the past two years by 35 of the biggest companies were outside the United States:
Those companies, which include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., [...] International Paper Co., Honeywell International Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc., boosted their employment at home by 3.1%, or 113,000 jobs, between 2009 and 2011, the same rate of increase as the nation's other employers. But they also added more than 333,000 jobs in their far-flung—and faster-growing— foreign operations.For instance, the giant retailer Wal Mart added 100,000 jobs in 2010-2011. Zero of them were in the U.S. Honeywell International cut its U.S. workforce by 1,000 in the same period and added 11,000 jobs abroad. Kraft Foods lopped 4,000 workers off its U.S. payroll and hired 33,000 overseas.
The companies included in the analysis were the largest of those that disclose their U.S. and non-U.S. employment in annual securities filings. All of them have at least 50,000 employees. Collectively, they employed roughly 6.4 million workers world-wide last year, up 7.7% from two years earlier. Over the same period, the total number of U.S. jobs increased 3.1%, according to the Labor Department.
This should be no surprise to anyone. In the first decade of the 21st Century, U.S.-based companies whacked 2.9 million jobs from their U.S. payrolls and added 2.4 million abroad. In the previous decade, they added jobs in both places, 4.4 million in the U.S. and 2.7 million elsewhere.
Not an encouraging trend. And one that is exacerbated by free trade pacts that do far too little to protect U.S. workers while shielding foreign nations from penalties that should accrue from violating what protections do exist in those agreements. And yet, as proved by the Obama administration's pressing ahead with a trade agreement with Colombia, where union organizers are still regularly murdered with impunity—51 in 2011, 4000 since 1990, according to the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center—the U.S. government continues to fail to effectively address the off-shoring of jobs.
When efforts are made, roadblocks are encountered. Many companies howling for a tax discount so they can repatriate profits earned abroad at a far lower rate than they would otherwise pay refuse to say how many employees they have in U.S. compared with those abroad.
Just knowing, however, will mean nothing if the U.S. fails to implement policies that reverse this long-standing trend. A piecemeal approach would be better than nothing. Ending tax breaks for companies that off-shore jobs, for instance. But a full-bore industrial plan—the kind that all our biggest trading partners have implemented to grow their economies and protect their workers—would be much better. Why having such a plan remains anathema to so many U.S. leaders has only two reasonable explanations: Either they are clueless or they prefer things the way they are because it butters their bread.
The globalization driving this off-shoring may indeed be inevitable. Under the right circumstances, globalization can be a good thing. We have, after all, been undergoing a kind of globalization for at least half a millennium.
But those right circumstances aren't what we have now. Instead, we have a corporatist mindset that exploits workers abroad and tells us that to keep jobs here, like those at the rescued General Motors, workers must accept lower pay and reduced benefits. Also their unions must be eviscerated, their protections from unsafe and unhealthy conditions diluted or eliminated, their cushions from periods of unemployment weakened and government services cut back. In addition, those workers should support tax cuts for the corporations and people who tell them these other things must happen.
We need a lot more leaders who will say hell no to all that.