NAM: In Otherwise Dour Times, Exports Saving America's Economic Growth

On this Labor Day Eve, the one bright spot on the economic horizon for the American worker is U.S. export-led growth and free trade, which are continuing to hold the economy above water, according to a report by the National Association of Manufacturers. The association's 11th annual Labor Day report (available at www.nam.org/LaborDayReport) notes that U.S. exports have increased by 11 percent over the past year and have added more to gross domestic product growth since 2005 than residential investment has taken away.

"The American worker is going through a difficult time this Labor Day due to rising energy prices that are cutting deep into their paychecks and the most severe housing sector decline in the post World War II era," said NAM President and CEO John Engler. "Amid these significant problems, the one bright spot on the economic landscape continues to be U.S. exports which have accounted for nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of America's economic growth over the past year."

U.S. manufacturers account for more than 90 percent of total goods exports, Engler noted. "While domestically oriented manufacturing industries have been hurt by the housing-led domestic slowdown, export-intense manufacturing industries have seen production surge 17 percent since the fourth quarter of 2005, and production employment grow by 119,000. With the domestic economy stuck in low gear, global engagement is the key to growth and job creation," he said, extolling free trade agreements as part of the solution, not the problem, for America's trade imbalance.

He added that American labor will most benefit in today's economic climate by engagement in the global economy and a forward-looking national energy strategy. "Due to America's increasing reliance on foreign sources of energy, petroleum imports alone now account for 69 percent of the entire U.S. trade deficit," he said. "Reducing our nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy will require a comprehensive national energy policy that promotes efficiency while increasing and diversifying our domestic energy supplies. Expanding supply and streamlining demand will together put downward pressure on energy prices that are eating into workers' paychecks and constraining consumer spending."

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