Ključni vzrok za izgubo tretjine zaposlenih v ameriški industriji so investicije in prenos proizvodnje v tujino ameriških multinacionalk

Še ena raziskava, ki dokazuje, da je ključni vzrok za to, da je po letu 1990 izginila tretjina ameriških delovnih mest v industriji, v povečanih investicijah njihovih multinacionalk v tujino in prenosu proizvodnje v tujino. Boehm, Flaaen & Pandalai-Nayar (2019) v najnovejši raziskavi, ki temelji na populaciji vseh ameriških multinacionalk, dokončno potrjujejo, kar smo že vedeli.

No, in v tem dejstvu, da ameriške multinacionalke prenašajo delovna mesta na Kitajsko, Mehiko itd. in uničujejo domačo industrijo, je treba iskati razlage za Trumpov notorični populizem s trgovinsko vojno s Kitajsko, nov trgovinski sporazum z Mehiko ter odpoved TTIP sporazuma. Kot sem že včeraj zapisal, s trgovinsko vojno (z uvedbo visokih carin, ki bodo podražile uvoz (tudi “ameriških”) izdelkov iz Kitajske) želi Trump po “metodi nežnega prepričevanja bratov Dalton” prepričati ameriške korporacije, da pripeljejo proizvodnjo nazaj v Ameriko. In s tem delovna mesta v “rust belt” in centralni del ZDA, tradicionalno belo delavsko volilno bazo Trumpa.

Ta populizem je nevaren, vendar mu ekonomsko utemeljene logike ne moremo odreči.

What has caused the rapid decline in US manufacturing employment in recent decades? This column uses novel data to investigate the role of US multinationals and finds that they were a key driver behind the job losses. Insights from a theoretical framework imply that a reduction in the costs of foreign sourcing led firms to increase offshoring, and to shed labour.

One of the most contentious aspects of globalisation is its impact on national labour markets. This is particularly true for advanced economies facing the emergence and integration of large, low-wage, and export-driven countries into the global trading system. Contributing to this controversy, between 1990 and 2011 the US manufacturing sector lost one out of every three jobs. A body of research, including recent work by Bloom et al. (2019), Fort et al. (2018) and Autor et al. (2013), has attempted to understand this decline in manufacturing employment. The focus of this research has been on two broad explanations. First, this period could have coincided with intensive investments in labour-saving technology by US firms, thereby resulting in reduced demand for domestic manufacturing labour. Second, the production of manufacturing goods may have increasingly occurred abroad, also leading to less demand for domestic labour. 

New facts on manufacturing employment, trade, and multinational activity

On the surface, the second explanation appears particularly promising. Manufacturing employment declined from nearly 16 million workers in 1993 to just over 10 million in 2011, shown by the black line in Figure 1. This large decline in manufacturing employment coincided with a surge in outward foreign direct investment (FDI) by US firms (the blue line in Figure 1). Nevertheless, existing theories of trade and multinational production make ambiguous predictions regarding the link between foreign production and US employment. Further, due to a lack of suitable firm-level data on US multinationals, there has been limited research on their role in the manufacturing employment decline (see Kovak et al. 2018 for a recent exception).

Figure 1 US manufacturing employment and US outward FDI

Source: BEA for FDI; Longitudinal Business Database (LBD) and authors’ calculations for employment.

In a recent paper, we address the question of whether foreign input sourcing of US multinationals has contributed to a decline in US manufacturing employment (Boehm et al. 2019). We construct a novel dataset, which we combine with a structural model to show that US multinationals played a leading role in the decline in US manufacturing employment. Our data from the US Census Bureau cover the universe of manufacturing establishments linked to transaction-level trade data for the period 1993-2011. Using two directories of international corporate structure, we augment the Census data to include, for the first time, longitudinal information on the direction and extent of firms’ multinational operations. To the best of our knowledge, our dataset is the first to permit a comprehensive analysis of the role of US multinationals in the aggregate manufacturing decline in the US. With these data, we establish three new stylised facts. 

Fact 1: US-owned multinationals were responsible for a large share of the aggregate manufacturing employment decline

Our first finding is that US multinational firms, defined as those US-headquartered firms with foreign-owned plants, contributed disproportionally to the decline in US manufacturing employment. While 33.3% of 1993 employment was in multinational-owned establishments, this group directly accounted for 41% of the subsequent decline. 

Fact 2: US-owned multinationals had lower employment growth rates than similar non-multinationals 

In Figure 2, we show that multinationals exhibited consistently lower net job creation rates in the manufacturing sector, relative to other types of firms. Compared to purely domestic firms and non-multinational exporting firms, multinationals created fewer jobs or shed more jobs in almost every year in our sample. Of course, these patterns may not be causal, and other characteristics of multinationals could be driving the low job creation rates. To address this concern, we control for all observable plant characteristics, and find that multinational plants experienced lower employment growth than non-multinational owned plants in the same industry, even when the size and age of the plants are held constant. 

Figure 2 Net US manufacturing job creation rates by type of US firm

Source: Authors’ calculations based on the LBD, Directory of Corporation Affiliations (DCA), and Longitudinal Foreign Trade Transactions Dataset (LFTTD) 

Fact 3: Newly multinational establishments experienced job losses, while the parent multinational firm expanded imports of intermediate inputs

An alternative way to assess the role of multinational activity on US employment with our data is to use an ‘event study’ framework. We compare the employment growth trajectories of newly multinational-owned plants to otherwise similar plants in terms of industry, firm age, and plant size. As can be seen in Figure 3a, prior to the plants becoming part of a multinational, their growth patterns are not different from the control group. However, in the years following the multinational expansion, there is a brief positive but then sustained negative trajectory of employment at these manufacturing plants. Ten years after the transition, these newly multinational-owned plants have manufacturing employment that is about 20% smaller than an otherwise similar plant.  

Figure 3 US employment and import dynamics at new multinational plants

b) Cumulative relative employment (Index)

Vir: Boehm, Flaaen & Pandalai-Nayar (2019)

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