MISCONCEPTION: Free trade steals U.S. jobs
REALITY: Automation caused the end of most jobs
Some people say free trade steals American jobs. According to recent U.S. research, 88 percent of American job losses were due to automation.
While trade with China does affect some American jobs, does it hurt as many as some critics claim?
Maybe not. Between 2010 and 2015, U.S. imports from China increased by 32 percent — yet the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs went up 7 percent.
And not all imports from China are actually “Chinese.” A big chunk are so-called “intermediate goods” — products that contain parts made in other countries, and shipped to China for final assembly.
MISCONCEPTION: The U.S. trade deficit with China hurts American working class families
REALITY: The trade deficit helps American consumers save money
Does the trade deficit with China really lower American living standards? Recent data suggests otherwise. Oxford University researchers say buying Chinese imports saves American families around $850 every year.
Here’s how. When we look at the four types of goods that consumers buy most, Chinese imports of these goods in the past 15 years increased by an average of 3.5 percent. The result? They became 5 percent cheaper.
MISCONCEPTION: The trade deficit with China hurts U.S. manufacturing
REALITY: The trade deficit can boost high-end manufacturing
Some believe the trade deficit with China hurts U.S. manufacturing. In some industries, that’s true. But the U.S. is still home to the world’s most successful manufacturing companies and their collective output is now at a record high.
This happened, in part, because these companies keep highly-paid U.S. jobs like R&D and marketing at home, while outsourcing lower-paid manufacturing jobs to China.
According to Oxford University, the three U.S. manufacturing sectors that experienced the strongest growth and highest productivity gains in recent years are also the top three importers of Chinese goods.