This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

April 14, 2004

Transnational Job Movement

Many Americans are upset about the migration of jobs to countries like India and China. While the perception is that a huge proportion of jobs is permanently leaving the United States, the reality seems to be considerably different. Researchers studying job migration expect that only about 200,000 jobs will move off-shore. This number is a very small percentage of the total number of people employed in the United States: 183.3 million. Unemployment is currently estimated at 8.2 million people.

The most recent international comparison of employment as a percentage of the working age population (2001) shows the Netherlands as the leader with 63.9 percent working, the United States second with 63.8 percent, followed by Singapore with 63.1 percent:

Click here to see the report.

The report shows that less than half the working population was employed in Italy and Spain, and France wasn't much better at 52.0 percent. In February 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 62.2 percent of the working age population was employed.

American manufacturing and back office jobs have gone to Asia, as have jobs from previously off-shored countries like Mexico. Furniture manufacturing, textiles, call centers, accounting, data entry, and computer programming jobs have been affected. New jobs have been created in developing countries, building the economic capacity of trading nations to purchase American exports.

Not everything is as simple as it looks. Some of the jobs that were moved overseas have been brought back to the United States. Difficulties include cultural differences, language problems, skill deficiencies, telecom infrastructure, customer dissatisfaction, and inadequate workforce performance---even at low wages. In spite of large populations, finding qualified workers is a challenge. People who are hired do not stay with an employer long enough to build performance: turnover numbers of at least 40 percent have been reported.

Americans focus too much attention on job movement from their country to others. This transnational job movement is happening on a global scale, with thousands of jobs coming into the United States. The jobs coming in are usually of a much higher caliber than the jobs departing. It's time to put this issue into perspective.

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