Analysis of Government Data Shows 57,000 Minnesota Jobs at Risk Under Proposed Korean Trade Pact

For Immediate Release

Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition
Contact: 

Jessica Lettween (651)214-6064
jlettween@citizenstrade.org

Analysis of Government Data Shows 57,000 Minnesota Jobs at Risk Under Proposed Korean Trade Pact

Federal Study Finds that Good-Paying Jobs in Manufacturing and Electronics Sectors Are Among the Most Threatened by the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement

Minneapolis, MN - Approximately 57,000 Minnesotans work in industries that a U.S.
government study identifies as at risk of being off-shored should a
proposed trade pact with South Korea be enacted. According the U.S.
International Trade Commission, the proposed trade agreement will
increase the U.S. global trade deficit, negatively affecting employment
in industries prevalent in Minnesota.

“With 7 percent unemployment in Minnesota, more than 9 percent
unemployment across our country and an electorate that is strongly
opposed to more NAFTA-style trade agreements, it is baffling why any
member of Congress would support a deal that even the International
Trade Commission says will increase our trade deficit,” said Steve
Hunter, Secretary-Treasurer of the MN AFL-CIO.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in
1994, the U.S. Labor Department has certified 33,800 individual
Minnesota jobs as lost to either direct off-shoring or displacement by
imports. This figure is almost certainly low, given that service-sector
jobs shipped overseas were not typically counted in the data set until
mid-way through 2009. In terms of volume of trade, the Korea FTA is the
largest pact of its type since NAFTA.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), the independent
federal agency tasked with estimating the likely economic effects of
trade agreements, predicts that implementation of the Korea FTA would
lead to an increase in the overall U.S. goods trade deficit of between
$308 million and $416 million. The changes made to the deal by the Obama
administration in December 2010 do not alter these USITC findings.

The USITC also indicates that jobs are likely to be lost in
high-wage industries such as electronic equipment and metal products
manufacturing with deficits for these sectors totaling up to $1.8
billion. According to research by Public Citizen, there are thousands of
Minnesotans employed in sectors of the economy that the USITC has
identified as most at risk under the Korea FTA. This includes over
20,500 in electronics; 15,500 in metal products manufacturing; 9,100 in
motor vehicles and parts; 5,400 in other transportation equipment; 3,000
in textiles; and 1,800 in iron-containing metal work. The average
hourly earnings of workers in the electronics industry, which is
projected to lose the most jobs, were $30.38 in 2008. This was 40.5
percent greater than the average hourly earnings of all workers employed
in the private sector. This is a particularly troubling development,
since high-tech jobs are often touted as being the “jobs of the future.”

“Past trade pacts such as NAFTA have destroyed well-paying
manufacturing jobs and eroded the middle class,” said Kris Jacobs,
Executive Director of JOBS NOW Coalition. “The Korea FTA, based on the
NAFTA model, is projected to further undermine the American economy and
put more people out of work.”

The bulk of jobs at risk in Minnesota are concentrated in two of the
state's eight congressional districts, with an estimated 12,800 jobs at
risk in the 3rd District and 12,000 jobs at risk in the 1st District.
According to an Economic Policy Institute report, these two districts,
along with the 2nd Congressional District, already rank among the Top 50
districts nationwide that have the greatest net job loss due to growing
trade deficits with China. Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) is not
only a proponent of the Korea agreement, but is co-chair of the
Congressional Korea-U.S. Free Trade Working Group which is focused on
the agreement's swift passage. Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-01) has not
stated his position on the Korea FTA. The Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition
is urging all of Minnesota's members of Congress to oppose the trade
pact.

“Whether or not Congress approves this pact will depend in no small
part on how Minnesota‟s Congressional delegation votes,” said Jessica
Lettween, Director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition. “In today‟s
economic climate, it would be unthinkable for our elected officials to
support another job-killing trade agreement. The high cost of so-called
'free' trade is something workers just can't afford.”

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Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of labor, environmental, faith, family farm, and civil society organizations united for a fair and democratic trade policy and a just global economy.

For a PDF of Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition‟s reporter memo titled “Studies on Potential Economic Effects of Korea Trade Pact Show Rising U.S. Deficits and Job Losses,” please email jlettween@citizenstrade.org.

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