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Argument: NAFTA has increased the number of American jobs

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Argument summary

This argument has many factors, including that a stronger economy from NAFTA will result in higher employment demands. Another key argument is that NAFTA and free trade strengthens the exporting industry, increasing export-related job. One of the most compelling facts supporting this point is that unemployment rates have fallen significantly since NAFTA began from 6.1% in 1994 to 4.7% in October of 2007.

The causality of job losses is hard to attribute to NAFTA specifically

  • "NAFTA and Job Losses". Cyril Morong (Ph. D.), The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2005 - "Did NAFTA cause the U.S. to lose so many jobs [citing figures provided in the range of 2 million and 800,000], especially high-paying manufacturing jobs? Probably not. I say probably, since causality, in any social science (economics included), is difficult to prove since so many factors change so quickly in the real world. But if many high-paying manufacturing jobs were lost, it took many years until after NAFTA went into effect before they were...But what about manufacturing jobs? We had just about 17 million in 1994. It actually rose to 17.56 million in 1998 and was at 17.26 in 2000 (still higher than in 1994 the year NAFTA went into effect). Then we had a recession in 2001 and since then the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen quite a bit, down to 14.3 million. So that is a loss of nearly 3 million since 2000, which might be due to the recession. If it were due to NAFTA, then why did it take so long for the loss to happen?"

Unemployment rates have fallen significantly since NAFTA began

  • "NAFTA and Job Losses". Cyril Morong (Ph. D.), The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2005 - "The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.9% in 1993, the year NAFTA was agreed to. It was 6.1% in 1994. The rate fell steadily until reaching 4.0% in the year 2000. Even in 2002, the year after we had a recession, the rate was 5.8%, lower than the year NAFTA went into effect."
  • On October 5, 2007, the unemployment rate was at 4.7%. So, the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.1% in 1994 when NAFTA began to 4.7% in 2007. This is an overall drop of 1.4%, which is generally considered significant. It has also been a steady decline, which could indicate that this is a long-term effect. While it is difficult to give full credit to NAFTA for this decrease in unemployment, these statistics make it difficult to conclude that NAFTA has caused overall job losses; the employment rate has increased significantly since NAFTA began!
But what about manufacturing jobs? We had just about 17 million in 1994. It actually rose to 17.56 million in 1998 and was at 17.26 in 2000 (still higher than in 1994 the year NAFTA went into effect). Then we had a recession in 2001 and since then the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen quite a bit, down to 14.3 million. So that is a loss of nearly 3 million since 2000, which might be due to the recession. If it were due to NAFTA, then why did it take so long for the loss to happen?"
  • Many of the 20 million new jobs the U.S. generated from 1993 to 2000 can be attributed to the free-trade bloc that NAFTA created, the administration continues.

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