First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.
The Gallup Organization just released new numbers about what the American people are most concerned about. To no one’s surprise the economy and unemployment top the list.
Americans Want Congress, Obama to Tackle Economic Issues
The numbers are stark:
And yet I seem to see little reporting on the impact trade has on the economy and unemployment.
Well, that is not completely accurate.
We constantly hear how U.S. jobs are lost to cheap-labor countries such as China and Vietnam.
What does not seem to be talked about, however, are the jobs that are created with international trade.
The U.S. Treasury Department estimates there are about 50 million Americans whose jobs are tied to exports of goods and services.
That can be anything from poultry farmers sending chicken feet to China to architects designing new buildings in Qatar.
But there is more to the trade issue than just jobs related to exports.
Think about the jobs created because of direct investment in the United States.
In a study Honda did in 2009 about the economic impact its investments in the United States had on jobs, the company reported that its direct investments in the United States resulted in 368,000 jobs providing $17 billion in annual wages and salaries.
Remember, that number is ONLY the DIRECT effect of Honda’s investment. That number includes employees at the Honda assembly plants in the States and the dealerships that sell the Honda products.
Look deeper and you might see a larger effect.
Because these 368,000 people have jobs and income, they have an impact on their local economies.
Let’s say Honda lays off half of the 152,000 people who work in its Ohio facilities. Think about how that will hurt the local grocery stores, the local tax base, the local beauty shops, bars, etc.
Take my hometown of Detroit. Yep it is a basket case. And imports played a role in hammering the city. Yet, today the Motor City is also the site of massive changes.
Recently I saw a report that at least one call center was opening in Detroit instead of India or China. The manager said the infrastructure is in place and the workforce is educated. And the people need and want work.
Add to that a recent report that showed that one in three new start-ups in Michigan were created by immigrants.
So immigrants are helping rebuild the American economy.
Foreign investors are helping rebuild the American economy.
But where are the stories in the mainstream media?
What we see instead are stories about uniformed members of Congress and the general public who say we need tighter rules against immigrants and foreign investment. Or that imposing tariffs against imported goods is the way to protect American jobs. The promoters of such views, of course are forgetting (or not realizing) that other economies will counter-impose tariffs against our goods and services.
In the end, the isolationist views of blocking immigration, imports and investments will put more people out of work and damage the U.S. economy even more.
Around the country in small and large towns there are similar stories. It just takes a reporter and editor/producer with a bit of imagination to see past the LOCAL! LOCAL! LOCAL! mantra of the bean counters.
If the American people are concerned about jobs and the economy, why aren’t news organizations looking at the immigrant communities and foreign investors. And asking, why are these people willing to risk their lives and money in the United States instead of some other country.
And these are LOCAL stories. They just have an international angle.
There is a whole world out there and every side street in the United States is tied to it. Unfortunately, the reporting too often does not accurately reflect that reality.