The jobs report is out, and it reveals more than you may think. While President Obama seems to believe that exports alone will grow us out of the recession, the report indicates something much different: that imports are helping create lots of jobs.
In September, the economy created 25,000 jobs in the trade, transportation, and utility sector—trailing only education and health services for most jobs created. What is even more indicative of the positive impact that exports have on creating jobs is a dramatic increase in the transportation and warehousing sector, which created 17,000 jobs this past month.
What kinds of jobs are these? They are jobs for longshoremen, rail workers, truckers, and construction and maintenance workers. These activities depend in part on the $190 billion in goods the U.S imports each month.
And job creation from imports doesn’t stop at the warehouse. The retail industry also added 9,000 jobs to the economy, all thanks in part to imports on things as varied as computers and apparel. (There’s also finance, marketing, and so on.)
Economists from The Heritage Foundation expounded on this idea at a lecture last week. New work by Heritage experts Derek Scissors, Charlotte Espinoza, and Terry Miller shows at length that:
In 2010, imports of apparel from China helped support 355,000 American jobs. Toy and sporting goods imports helped support 221,000 jobs… [indicating that] in just two trade categories, Chinese imports help support 576,000 jobs, and likely more.
When those imports of apparel and toys arrive in the U.S., longshoremen are needed to unload the goods, conductors are needed to transport the shipments by rail, warehouse employees are needed to store these items, and store associates are needed to sell them. These are jobs that wouldn’t exist without imports. Chances are that you interact every day with an individual whose job would disappear without imports.
Democrats and Republicans alike need a lesson on international trade: It is not just exports that create jobs but imports as well. Time and again, the President has promoted his National Export Initiative. The Heritage Foundation paper and the September jobs report indicate that a National Import Initiative would accomplish many of the same goals.