It’s long been obvious that U.S. textile, furniture and toys manufacturing jobs evaporated when China gained market share in those sectors, but a study released this week was able to track individual workers from 1991 to 2007, and show the long-term effects of globalization.
The economists, from MIT, University of California San Diego, the Social Security Administration and a Spanish university, controlled for automation, which has also reduced manufacturing employment.
Workers in fields where Chinese imports rose dramatically had lower earnings over the entire 15-year period, were less likely to work consistently over those years, and were more likely to go on Social Security Disability.
The higher skilled the worker was in that field, the smaller the effect. So a front-line loom worker had her life upended far more than the dye chemist.
While both high-paid and low-paid workers are likely to take a big pay cut after a layoff, the high-paid workers were more likely to make it up over the years, the research found.
Has foreign competition affected your workplace? Share your stories in the comments below.