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U.S. Exports and Employment

In: Trade and Labor Markets


  • Robert C. Feenstra
  • Hong Ma
  • Yuan Xu


We examine the employment responses to import competition from China and to global export expansion from the United States, both of which have been expanding strongly during the past decades. We find that although Chinese imports reduce jobs, at both the industry level and the local commuting zone level, the global export expansion of US products also creates a considerable number of jobs. On balance over the entire 1991-2007 period, job gains due to changes in US global exports were slightly less than job losses due to Chinese imports. Using data at both the industry level and the commuting zone level, we find a net loss of around 0.2-0.3 million jobs. When we extend the analysis to 1991-2011, we find the net job effect of import and export exposure is roughly balanced at the commuting zone level.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robert C. Feenstra & Hong Ma & Yuan Xu, 2017. "U.S. Exports and Employment," NBER Chapters, in: Trade and Labor Markets, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:14164

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David H. Autor & David Dorn & Gordon H. Hanson, 2016. "The China Shock: Learning from Labor-Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 205-240, October.
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    5. Kirill Borusyak & Peter Hull & Xavier Jaravel, 2018. "Quasi-Experimental Shift-Share Research Designs," Papers 1806.01221,, revised Dec 2020.
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    10. John Romalis, 2007. "NAFTA's and CUSFTA's Impact on International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 416-435, August.
    11. Kyle Handley & Nuno Limão, 2017. "Policy Uncertainty, Trade, and Welfare: Theory and Evidence for China and the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(9), pages 2731-2783, September.
    12. Robert C. Feenstra & Akira Sasahara, 2018. "The ‘China shock,’ exports and U.S. employment: A global input–output analysis," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(5), pages 1053-1083, November.
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    15. Brian C. Cadena & Brian K. Kovak, 2016. "Immigrants Equilibrate Local Labor Markets: Evidence from the Great Recession," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 257-290, January.
    16. Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham & Isaac Sorkin & Henry Swift, 2020. "Bartik Instruments: What, When, Why, and How," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(8), pages 2586-2624, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mingzhi Xu, 2020. "Globalization, the skill premium, and income distribution: the role of selection into entrepreneurship," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 156(3), pages 633-668, August.
    2. Xuefeng Qian & Kalsoom Rafique & Yingna Wu, 2020. "Flying with the Dragon: Estimating Developing Countries’ Gains from China's Imports," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 28(5), pages 1-25, September.
    3. Giorgio Barba Navaretti & Lionel Fontagné & Gianluca Orefice & Giovanni Pica & Anna Cecilia Rosso, 2019. "TBTs, Firm Organization and Labour Structure," Working Papers 2019-14, CEPII research center.
    4. Bastos, Paulo, 2020. "Exposure of belt and road economies to China trade shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    5. Bombardini, Matilde & Li, Bingjing, 2020. "Trade, pollution and mortality in China," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    6. Li, Chunding & Wang, Jing & Whalley, John, 2019. "Trade Protectionism and US Manufacturing Employment," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 410, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    7. Katheryn N. Russ, 2018. "Review Of “Globalization And Inequality” By Elhanan Helpman," Israel Economic Review, Bank of Israel, vol. 16(2), pages 141-147.
    8. Matthieu Crozet & Laura Hering & Sandra Poncet, 2018. "Looking for the Bright Side of the China Syndrome: Rising Export Opportunities and Life Satisfaction in China," Working Papers 2018-14, CEPII research center.
    9. Xi He, 2020. "US agricultural exports and labor market adjustments," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 51(4), pages 609-621, July.
    10. Mauro Caselli & Stefano Schiavo, 2020. "Markups, import competition and exporting," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(5), pages 1309-1326, May.
    11. repec:boi:isrerv:v:16:y:2019:i:2:p:141-147 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Egger, Peter H. & Kaynak, Pinar & Zoller-Rydzek, Benedikt, 2020. "Indirect effects of trade shocks on Turkish local labor markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    13. Twinam, Tate, 2020. "Trade Shocks and Growth: The Impact of the Quartz Crisis in Switzerland," SocArXiv twscm, Center for Open Science.
    14. Fredrik Heyman & Fredrik Sjöholm, 2019. "Globalization, Job Tasks and the Demand for Different Occupations," Travail et Emploi, La DARES, vol. 0(1), pages 67-91.
    15. José Signoret & Alen Mulabdic & Ludmila Cieszkowsky, 2020. "Trade and Poverty in EU Regions," World Bank Other Operational Studies 33454, The World Bank.
    16. Andrew N. Greenland & Mihai Ion & John W. Lopresti & Peter K. Schott, 2020. "Using Equity Market Reactions to Infer Exposure to Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 27510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Lee Branstetter & Ana Venancio & Brian Kovak, 2019. "The China Shock and Portuguese Manufacturing," 2019 Meeting Papers 1051, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Ferrari, Massimo Minesso & Pagliari, Maria Sole & Kurcz, Frederik, 2020. "Do words hurt more than actions? The impact of trade tensions on financial markets," Working Paper Series 2490, European Central Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


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