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The Link Between Exports and Employment

In 1997 the Indiana University School of Business published a study of export-related employment trends for a dozen manufacturing industries in eight states, including New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Kentucky. The study, which interpreted and expanded upon federal trade data for the years 1992 to 1996, found that manufacturing exports have had major impacts on state employment and that export activity tends to lead to higher wages.

During the years covered by the study, total manufacturing employment in New York State declined from 1,014,400 jobs to 921,800 jobs. All 12 industries experienced job losses with the exception of lumber, which remained essentially unchanged.

Trade is important to New York-but we're trailing behind

The findings of the Indiana study, which are illustrated in Table 5, opposite, included the following:

Table 5: Total New York Manufacturing Export Employment
(Thousands of Jobs)
1992 - 1996
Food 1.71.6-0.1-6%
Lumber and Wood 22.80.840%
Furniture 0.80.5-0.3-38%
Printing and publishing 15.110.6-4.5-30%
Chemicals and allied products 10.2132.827%
Rubber and misc. plastics 6.77.50.812%
Primary metals 5.17.32.243%
Fabricated metals 11.510.3-1.2-10%
Industrial machinery and computer equip. 36.744.47.721%
Electric and electronic equip. 31.331.50.21%
Transportation equipment 6.83-3.8-56%
Sophisticated instruments and related products 21.120.7-0.4-2%
TOTALS 171185.514.58%
Source: "Export-Related Employment and Wages Estimates for Eight States, 1992 to 1996," Indiana University School of Business, Oct. 1997

 

The Indiana study also found that export-related jobs paid higher wages than other manufacturing—except in New York State, where the export-related jobs actually paid slightly less.

If New York's export-intensive manufacturers have a wage advantage over competitors, why isn't the state adding more jobs and exporting at a faster pace? The answers to that question highlight some of the policy priorities still waiting to be addressed by state officials.

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