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Corporations add more jobs overseas than at home; big shift seen in last ten years

April 25th, 2011  |  Connie Eyer

A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that new data from the U.S. Commerce Department indicates that U.S. multinational corporations companies cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s, while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million—a big change from the 1990s, when they added jobs everywhere: 4.4 million in the U.S. and 2.7 million abroad.

Suggesting that Corporate America certainly isn’t doing its part to help bring America out of its economic downturn, the paper surveyed employment data by some of the nation’s largest “brand-name” corporations: General Electric, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, Stanley Works, Merck, United Technologies, and Oracle. For example, in 2001, Oracle created 22,008 jobs in the U.S., while 20,919 were outside the U.S. However, in 2010, 39,000 jobs were in the U.S. while 66,000 were outsourced. GE’s data indicates that in 2001, 158, 000 jobs were U.S.-based, as opposed to 152,000 outside the country. Those figures in 2010 changed to  133,000 and 154,000 jobs, respectively. Another company, Caterpillar, had 38,664 jobs in the U.S. in 2001 compared to 33,340 outside the country. In 2010, it was 47,319 and 57,171.

At the 2009 Strategic Outsourcing Conference, attended by many of the most powerful companies in the U.S., more than 70 senior executives who attended the conference were asked questions about the behavior of their companies in response to the economic downturn. The results were that 57 percent increased the use of outsourcing, 34 percent significantly restructured one or more outsourcing agreements and only nine percent said they terminated some outsourcing agreements.

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released last week indicated that 44 percent of Americans feel that the economy is getting worse rather than better. And with “American” companies leaving them behind, it’s not hard to figure out where their malaise comes from.