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May 1990, Vol. 113, No. 5
The 1987-88 surge in exports and the rise in factory jobs
Christopher J. Singleton
During the preceding two decades, the world became increasingly interdependent with the expansion of international trade. Exports contributed to respective nations' economic growth by raising Output and augmenting employment levels. The United States, while not as reliant on the export stimulus as some developing countries, nevertheless depends on foreign sales to spur job growth in numerous industries. Factory jobs became tied to exports even more in the late 1980's.
Prior to the weakness of 1989, manufacturing employment had risen vigorously in 1987 and 1988.1 This growth stemmed disproportionately from four industries that are particularly oriented towards exports. These industries benefited from sharply increasing exports which, given the industries' relatively heavy dependence on foreign sales, spurred demand for labor. The remaining manufacturing industries, although less export-intensive, also generally enjoyed accelerating foreign shipments. Demand from abroad more than offset sluggish domestic demand and allowed U.S. manufacturers to recover from their downturn of the mid-1980's.
This article describes the spurt in factory job growth that occurred 5 years into the longest peacetime expansion in U.S. economic history. It details the rapid growth of exports and concentrates on their contribution to the improved manufacturing employment picture. Manufacturing's recent sluggishness is addressed in the last section.
This excerpt is from an article published in the May 1990 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Employment data are from the Current Employment Statistics survey and appear in the Supplement to Employment and Earnings, Bulletin 1312-12 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 1989).
An analysis of U.S. industries sensitive to foreign trade, 1982-87.Feb. 1993.
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