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Offshoring: Storm Cloud Brewing over U.S., or Just Lost in the Global Tradewinds?

A new GAO study released last week indicates that while offshoring of U.S. jobs may be on the rise, there are still very few accurate means to measure the resulting gains and losses for the American economy. The 80-page report confirms what many people assumed: that offshoring in general is increasing, but that the net effects of forfeiting domestic jobs in the interest of greater business and economic efficiencies are just too diffuse to quantify.

Earlier this year, we took a look at the face of offshoring, sharing the stories of professionals whose careers — and families — have been affected. Now it’s beginning to look like offshoring could be an opportunity as some American leaders begin to look overseas for opportunities. (October issue access code required.)

So it seems that no one can really say for sure how offshoring actually affects America’s economic health. Even after an eight-month study, the GAO couldn’t find enough information to offer a clear verdict on offshoring.

Obviously, for the thousands of people who have lost jobs because their companies have shipped tasks overseas, offshoring is a very real problem. But how real a threat is it to the U.S. economy? Will the jobs lost eventually be replaced? Should it remain a prominent issue in the presidential campaign? If so, what can — and what should — a president actually do to address the situation?

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