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New Study: How Important is FDI to the U.S. economy?

February 24, 2016

Felicia Pullam is the Director of Outreach for SelectUSA.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) released a new study that quantifies the employment impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. Economists from ITA’s Office of Trade and Economic Analysis estimate that 12 million jobs, or 8.5 percent of the entire U.S. labor force, were attributed to FDI.

Graph

Foreign direct investment

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), also within the U.S. Department of Commerce, conducts an intensive survey every year that measures the number of people employed by foreign companies, along with other information about their operations. According to their data, roughly 6.1 million people were directly employed by U.S. affiliates of majority foreign-owned companies in 2013 (the most recent year for which we have data). In other words, international companies like Siemens, Unilever, and Toyota have operations in the United States that employ American workers.

The economic impact of this foreign investment goes beyond the direct jobs. International companies help drive American innovation, connect American communities with the world, and bring new techniques to improve productivity. In 2013 alone, companies like Novartis, Michelin, and Samsung spent a whopping $53 billion on American research and development.  That same year, companies like Honda and L’Oréal, exported $360 billion worth of goods from the United States.

All of this direct economic activity generates additional motion in the local and national economy. For example, these companies rely on other companies within their supply chain.  The employees of these companies all earn income, which they can in turn spend at restaurants or on other goods for their families.  Employees are trained with new skills, which benefit them for the rest of their lives as they move on to future jobs.

L’Oréal, headquartered in France, directly employs more than 10,000 people in the United States, with facilities in 14 states. L’Oréal USA manufactures billions of dollars’ worth of products in the United States for American sales, while also exporting more than $500 million of finished product from the United States every year. To achieve this, L’Oréal USA sources many of its production-related purchases (e.g., packaging, raw materials, and subcontracts) from suppliers in our country, including companies like Stull Technologies, Inc., in New Jersey, and New York Label & Box Works.

Lufthansa Group, headquartered in Germany, directly employs 14,000 people across the United States. Its subsidiary, Lufthansa Technik, recently cut the ribbon on a world-class aircraft maintenance facility in Puerto Rico, employing 203 skilled workers (with plans to double in the next year).  But Lufthansa Technik’s local impact does not stop there – 140 more people are employed by other companies that provide Lufthansa with a variety of services, including Wasco, Genesis, Food Friends, Antilles, and Occupational Medical Services. This specific investment not only brings high-skilled jobs and workforce training to the community, it also establishes an important cornerstone for the local industry.

The landmark study released today, titled “Jobs Attributable to Foreign Direct Investment in the United States”, looks at these broader economic effects to estimate the larger impact.  Building on BEA’s data, the report uses the United States Applied General Equilibrium (USAGE) model to conservatively estimate the total number of jobs attributable to FDI through two channels.

The first channel includes 2.4 million jobs in supply and distribution chains related to foreign-owned enterprises and jobs stimulated by increased incomes. The second channel includes 3.5 million jobs attributable to productivity growth in manufacturing associated with FDI. In total, the report estimates that, in addition to 6.1 million direct jobs, at least 5.9 million indirect jobs also rely on FDI, totaling 12 million jobs.

This result shows clearly that FDI continues to be important to the U.S. economy. The United States is home to more foreign investment than any other country, and there are still opportunities to attract more. The SelectUSA program, also housed within ITA, offers services to foreign companies and U.S. economic development organizations to facilitate this investment.  Topics that are directly related to the economic effects discussed in the report, such as innovation, advanced manufacturing, and workforce development, will be on the agenda for the SelectUSA Investment Summit, coming up in June 2016.

View the full report 

 

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