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21 Million US Jobs Depend on Imports According to New Study

An economic impact study commissioned by nine business organizations, including the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the National Retail Federation (NRF), found that imports support more than 21 million American jobs.

Import study
Click here to download the study

The study titled Imports Work for American Workers focuses on the net impact of imports on US jobs, including statistics on sectors such as retail, apparel, transportation, manufacturing, and consumer technology. The study also looks at how imports support jobs in states across the US as well as trade policy initiatives pending before Congress and the administration with the potential to preserve or diminish import-related jobs.

Blake Harden
Blake Harden

“This study reiterates just how significant imports are in supporting millions of American jobs,” said Blake Harden, RILA vice president for international trade. “It’s critical for policy makers to remember what a substantial impact trade policy has on American workers. Jobs created by imports are supporting families and building communities across the US. And current destructive trade policies that place tariffs on imported products are putting these American jobs at risk. We need policy makers to prioritize smart and strategic US trade policies that celebrate the role imports play in creating good-paying American jobs and strengthening the US economy.”

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Key Findings

  • Imports support more than 21 million American jobs across the country, including a net positive number in every US state. The 10 states accounting for the largest number of import-related jobs are California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
  • Imports from key trading partners — including Canada, China, the European Union, and Mexico — support a net positive number of US jobs.
  • Import-related jobs are good jobs that pay competitive wages. Nearly 8 million of the jobs related to importing are held by minorities and 2.5 million jobs are held by workers represented by unions.
  • Today’s retail value chain includes more than 7 million workers doing important non-sales jobs (46% of the total retail employment) within the retail industry.
  • The vast majority (96%) of companies who import are small or medium-sized businesses.
  • US trade policies, many now pending before Congress and the administration, have the potential to both support and hurt these jobs.

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The American Apparel and Footwear Association, the American Chemistry Council, the Consumer Technology Association, the National Foreign Trade Council, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, the US Fashion Industry Association, and the US Global Value Chain Coalition commissioned the study, which was prepared by Laura M. Baughman and Dr. Joseph F. Francois of Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC.

The study is being released during “World Trade Week” as part of “World Trade Month” to highlight the essential role that imports play in the US and global economy.

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