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The United States of Trade: Exports Key to Jobs and Economic Growth

Posted April 14, 2015

The Obama administration continued its effort to garner support from lawmakers and the public for so-called “fast-track” authority needed to push through two ambitious trade agreements with the release last week by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman of two new reports showing a continued increase in the number of jobs across the country that are supported by the export of goods. 

The USTR’s “United States of Trade” report includes the most current data for all 50 states on the overall value of goods exports and on exports to countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as data on the number of exporters and the percent of exporters that are small- or medium-sized businesses. This information was corroborated by the Jobs Supported by State Exports 2014 economic brief from the Department of Commerce, indicating that 43 states registered increases in the number of jobs supported by goods exports from 2009-2014.

According to Pritzer, the reports demonstrate the “critical role” exports play in economic growth and creating jobs in America and “tell the story of thousands and thousands of U.S. businesses and 11.7 million American workers” that depend on them. Speaking to reporters, the Commerce secretary highlighted Texas as the biggest trade beneficiary, where exports worth $289 billion supported 1.1 million jobs in 2014. California had more than 775,000 jobs supported by trade and Washington, New York and Illinois all had more than 300,000 jobs supported by exports, according to the administration’s data.

Ambassador Froman pointed to an increase of 1.8 million export-supported jobs since 2009, saying that the reports show that President Obama’s trade agenda “puts American workers first” and that “good-paying jobs are tied to ‘Made in America’ exports.” From his perspective, the story is also a forward-looking one of small businesses “that will benefit from tearing down trade barriers in markets around the globe” through trade agreements like the TPP, which Froman says are “a once-in-a-generation chance to unleash the economic potential of American small businesses and to level the playing field for our workers.”

Click here to view an interactive map with state-by-state trade data.