Thursday, March 3, 2011

Business Is Booming

Via The American Prospect (H/T Miguel @ SimoleonSense).
Just how mobile are these rootless corporations in their global chase for profits? It's hard to know, because they're anything but forthcoming about the extent of their employment abroad, much less the number of formerly U.S. jobs they've actually offshored. Some companies reveal the number of their foreign and domestic employees in their annual 10-K reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but many don't, as there's no requirement to do so. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) releases its own report annually on the total number of workers employed by U.S. firms here at home and by their foreign subsidiaries. But there are almost no figures on how many employees work for foreign firms with which American companies contract to make all or part of their products -- the Foxconns of the world.
Still, looking at the BEA data on foreign and domestic employment from 1982 through 2008 (the most recent year available) gives us some sense of the shift in the employment patterns of U.S.-based multinationals. In 1982, 26 percent of the workers at these companies worked for their foreign affiliates. As recently as 2000, that figure had increased only to 28.9 percent, but by 2008, it had risen to 36 percent. The same growing shift toward foreign employment is evident for leading multinationals. In 1992, Ford reported that 53 percent of its employees were in the U.S. and Canada; by 2009, the share of its workers in North America (including Mexico as well) had shrunk to 37 percent. In 1993, Caterpillar's workforce was 74 percent domestic; by 2008, it was just 46 percent domestic.
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