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February 1993, Vol. 116, No. 2
Robert K. Bednarzik
C oncern over the effects of international trade on U.S. industries and workers heightened during the 1980's, as the trade deficit reached record levels. Exports rose modestly between 1982 and 1987, while imports increased substantially. The deficit peaked in 1987, with imports exceeding exports by $160 billion. Many U.S. firms feared that imports would drive them out of business or force them to cut back operations, U.S. export firms were looking for accelerated economic growth to allow them to expand production.
Under the Trade Act of 1974, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Bureau of the Census were given the responsibility of monitoring U.S. imports, exports, and related domestic production and employment. In fulfillment of this responsibility, these agencies jointly publish quarterly and annual tabulations of imports and exports of merchandise, as well as, tabulations of industry employment, based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. This information is intended to appraise both administrators of adjustment assistance programs and the Congress of those industries in which adjustments will likely be needed as a result of the expansion of international trade. Although the trade and employment data were used in conjunction with other data to assess U.S. trade performance by industrial sector in the 1970's,1 there has been no such analysis for the 1980's. However, given U.S. participation in the Uruguay Round-multilateral trade negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)-and in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) proposals, it is important for public policy to identify U.S. industries with current, significant trading activity. This article updates and builds upon the work of Gregory K. Schoepfle by identifying import- and export-sensitive manufacturing industries and by drawing a worker profile in each of those industries.2 Such an analysis will give some idea of industries and worker groups likely to be affected by a more open trading environment.
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1993 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 Gregory K. Schoepfle, "Imports and domestic employment: identifying affected industries," Monthly Labor Review, August 1982, pp. 13-26.
2 Schoepfle, "Imports and domestic employment."
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