The growing trend of globalization has had a profound impact not only on the global economy, but on the economies of both developed and developing nations.
Particularly in the United States, the labor market is experiencing severe loses in low-skilled manufacturing jobs at an alarming rate. As global competition is shifting jobs overseas, the United States government will have to step-in to preserve the welfare of American workers, predominantly workers located in Middle-America and the South.
While the U.S. share of global manufacturing halved between 2000 and 2012, China's share of global manufacturing tripled during the same time. China's liberalization of trade policies, through entrance into the WTO in 2001, and increased investment in GDP has led to particularly high economic growth and a surge in productivity. Whether or not this has had positive impacts on the Chinese labor market is a up for debate.
In my home state of North Carolina, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs—particularly furniture making jobs—due to Chinese competition, is blatant. The effects on the local communities are evident through elevated drug use, crime rate, and homelessness as well as an increase in housing foreclosures (exacerbated by the Great Recession). The Wall Street Journal hones in on the crisis in Hickory, NC where the number manufacturing jobs have halved. However, the article points to these effects proliferating on the macro-level as well, noting that “Chinese competition was responsible for the loss of 2.4 million jobs in the U.S. between 1999 and 2011.” American workers simply cannot compete with the Chinese manufacturing process.
We don’t have the factory capacity, we don’t have the worker productivity, and we don’t have the convenience of local supply chains. Across many industries, Chinese manufacturers are able to produce and sell their products at the same price that it costs here in the U.S. to make the product. In addition, the price of Chinese labor does not compare to here in the U.S., weakening the bargaining powers of the U.S. worker.
So what are U.S. workers supposed to do in the face of globalization? I believe it'll become essential for people in the United States to market themselves globally. As the times change, people will have to be more open to entering the global market and selling their knowledge and skills to foreign companies. Easier said than done, of course. However, global competition is affecting both blue-collar and white-collar work and it will be necessary for U.S. workers to expand their scope to the global horizon in order to stay competitive in a world pushing on 8 billion people.