Argument: Free trade causes job loss in many unskilled industries of developed countries

Issue Report: Free trade

Supporting Evidence

Robert E. Scott,” The high price of ‘free’ trade, NAFTA’s failure has cost the United States jobs across the nation” November 17, 2003 | EPI Briefing Paper #147
“Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1993, the rise in the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico through 2002 has caused the displacement of production that supported 879,280 U.S. jobs. Most of those lost jobs were high-wage positions in manufacturing industries. The loss of these jobs is just the most visible tip of NAFTA’s impact on the U.S. economy. In fact, NAFTA has also contributed to rising income inequality, suppressed real wages for production workers, weakened workers’ collective bargaining powers and ability to organize unions, and reduced fringe benefits.
NAFTA’s impact in the United States, however, has been often obscured by the “boom-and-bust” cycle that drove domestic consumption, investment, and speculation in the mid- and late 1990s. Between 1994 (when NAFTA was implemented) and 2000, total employment rose rapidly in the United States, causing overall unemployment to fall to record low levels. But unemployment began to rise early in 2001, and 2.4 million jobs were lost in the domestic economy between March 2001 and October 2003 (BLS 2003). These job losses have been primarily concentrated in the manufacturing sector, which has experienced a total decline of 2.4 million jobs since March 2001. As job growth has dried up in the economy, the underlying problems caused by U.S. trade deficits have become much more apparent, especially in manufacturing.”