United States Economy
Changes in the structure of global production and trade have been difficult for certain sectors of the U.S. economy. As other countries have developed new manufacturing capacities, the lower wages of workers in those countries have given them a cost advantage relative to manufacturing in the United States. This has led to a steady increase in U.S. imports of manufactured goods that are cheaper than equivalent domestic goods. It has also prompted a number of U.S. companies to close factories in the United States and build new ones in developing countries, where they can take advantage of lower wages and improved manufacturing skills. The “outsourcing” of jobs has been a hotly contested issue in American politics, largely because of the conflict of interests between American companies seeking cheaper production and the labor market in the United States, specifically the “Blue Collar labor market (usually workers outside of the service sector, or the white collar labor market). Combined with technological changes and other factors, these developments in trade have: American workers, with lower degree of skills, have been hit hardest by foreign imports and plant closings, because they tend to work in the industries in which emerging industrial countries are most competitive. Over the past few decades, as employment and wages have declined in traditional U.S. manufacturing sectors, many more jobs have been created in higher-tech manufacturing industries and in the service sector. These jobs are often higher paying than the manufacturing jobs that have been eliminated. Many workers with manufacturing backgrounds lack the training and education necessary to transition into these new fields. The U.S. federal government and state governments all sponsor programs designed to help workers displaced by economic change to acquire new skills. One of the largest of these programs is the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, run by the U.S. Department...
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