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Exports Drive Job Growth in a Global Economy

The export industry has become a powerful engine for growing the U.S. economy, and statistics from the International Trade Administration (ITA) show that the growth of U.S. exports - and the jobs they create - are likely to continue in the years to come.

"Last year, exports made up 14 percent of GDP," says Natalie Soroka, an economist in the Office of Trade and Industry Information within the ITA in Washington, D.C. That rate has grown over the last 10 years, up from a low 9.3 percent in 2003.[1] "It is an historic upward trend," Soroka says.

U.S. Export Growth By the Numbers

Here is a closer look at the growing export industry, according to "Jobs Supported by Exports," which was published by the ITA in October 2012:[1]

“To be a 21st century company, you have to participate in the world market.”

— Derrick Olsen, vice president of regional strategy and coordination for Greater Portland Inc

·      Fully 98 percent of U.S. exporters are small and mid-sized businesses, and these companies are fueling the expansion of total U.S. exports, Soroka says.

·      Jobs supported by exports in the U.S. increased to 9.7 million in 2011 - up 600,000 from 2010 and 1.2 million from 2009.

·      The private services sector accounted for 5.4 million export-supported jobs in 2010, more than half of which came indirectly from exports of goods rather than services.

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·      This business growth translates to higher paying jobs across all manufacturing sectors. In an ITA report, David Riker of the ITA estimates that workers in export-intensive manufacturing industries earn 18 percent more on average than comparable workers in other manufacturing industries.

·      In 2010, jobs in the manufacturing sector accounted for almost one-third of the 9.1 million jobs supported by exports. In addition, 25 percent of all jobs in the manufacturing sector are supported by exports.

The Ripple Effect

In this global economy, it is no longer enough to rely on local customers to support business growth, says Derrick Olsen, vice president of regional strategy and coordination for Greater Portland Inc, a regional partnership helping companies expand and locate to the Portland, Ore.-Vancouver area.

"Not only do exports represent a significant part of our GDP, they bring revenue from outside the region to support service sectors that don't export," he says. In other words, through exporting, a business owner brings more income into the community, which then circulates across business sectors.

Keeping Up With Competitors

Even if small U.S. businesses choose not to export, their competitors - local and international - are making the move, which means everyone is competing on a global scale, Olsen says.

"You have to consider exporting if you want to be competitive," Olsen says. "You may face logistical hurdles, and it make take time to get started, but to be a 21st century company, you have to participate in the world market."

When a domestic business is ready to expand globally, the business owner can turn to a trusted online foreign exchange service for education about dealing in foreign currency. From strategies to secure preferred exchange rates to hedging tools, it's important to know the options available to export businesses so they can minimize the impact of foreign currency fluctuations.


[1] "Jobs Supported by Exports," October 2012, The International Trade Administration



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