The ongoing national debate over how to create enough jobs for 14 million unemployed Americans has largely left out the important role of exports in curbing our nation’s unemployment crisis. But the goods and services we sell to other nations account for 12.5 percent of our economy and directly support 9.2 million, or 7 percent, of American jobs. Policymakers would do well to recognize just how important U.S. exports are to restoring our nation’s global economic competitiveness and a prosperous middle class.
Exports, in short, must be part of the solution to create enough jobs and put millions of hardworking, middle-class Americans back to work. President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative to double American exports from $1.57 trillion in 2009 to $3.14 trillion by 2015 is a step in the right direction. But three complementary steps would help leverage exports for job creation more effectively—not just for the next three years but for years to come:
- First, an export strategy must connect to an economic plan to promote U.S. competitiveness, especially in manufacturing.
- Second, we must systematically collect information on the full range of activities that other countries are undertaking to promote their exports and be more creative in how we promote our exports overseas.
- Third, we must cultivate more demand abroad.
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