The reasons Ohio has lost manufacturing jobs are more complicated than the simply blaming NAFTA. The state was hit hard early this decade when the economy was slowing down, state taxes were raised -- making Ohio less competitive -- and technology made manufacturing more productive, requiring fewer workers.
Politicians, being what they are, never talk about the natural churning of the U.S. workforce. In the last few years, almost a million Americans left or lost their jobs each week. However, a little more than that were hired each week, too. Employment has declined in the last two months as a result of the slowdown, but before that we had nearly five years of net job growth.
The fact is that, even during our current economic rough patch, trade remains one of the bright spots in a $14-trillion-a-year economy. A typical example: Last week, Caterpillar boosted its sales forecast by 20 percent, largely because of growing foreign demand for its construction and farm machinery.
Another example: Whirlpool, whose 9,000 workers manufacture top-of-the-line, energy-efficient appliances at four plants in Ohio. Over 20 percent of the Clyde factory's sales come from overseas -- business that will grow as we negotiate and sign trade agreements with other countries to drop their tariffs on American-made products.
Hillary and Obama are fond of roundly condemning job outsourcing, but they never mention the rise of "insourcing" from foreign companies that find it pays to build their manufacturing plants here. BMW, the German automotive giant, has announced that it will expand production at its South Carolina plant by more than 50 percent, while it cuts jobs in Germany. Also taking advantage of the lower dollar, Toyota will be buying more of their parts locally and that, too, will help boost employment. Meanwhile, the United States remains the largest exporter in the world, selling $1.6 trillion in goods and services abroad last year -- the fourth straight year of double-digit export growth, says Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.
NAFTA has been a driving force in that export growth. Closing the United States off from the global marketplace, or calling for a "timeout," is a job-killer. The jobs of the future are going to come more and more from selling our stuff to a growing world economy.