Americans Are Concerned About Outsourcing

Outsourcing has been in the news lately, and conservatives’ lack of concern about the practice is clearer than ever. But they couldn’t be further away from the public on this one: The public is very, very concerned about outsourcing and wants action to mitigate the damage from the practice.

Let’s start with how heavily the public believes outsourcing contributes to our ongoing economic problems. In a September 2010 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 86 percent agreed (including 68 percent who strongly agreed) that U.S. companies outsourcing work to foreign countries is one of the reasons for our struggling economy and unemployment. This was ranked the highest of eight reasons tested in the survey.

Figure 1

Similarly, in a December 2010 Allstate/National Journal survey, 67 percent thought outsourcing played a major role in high unemployment, compared to just 28 percent who thought it played a minor role and 4 percent who thought it played no role at all.

Figure 2

Not surprisingly, the public wants something done about this problem. In the August 2010 edition of the same survey, 70 percent thought it was either extremely (39 percent) or very (31 percent) important to reduce the number of jobs being outsourced in order to help the U.S. economy recover from the recession.

Figure 3

Even more impressive, in the March 2011 Pew Mobility survey, “Keep jobs in America” was ranked first out of 16 possible steps government could take to make sure people don’t fall behind economically. Ninety percent deemed it either one of the most effective steps (59 percent) or a very effective step (31 percent) the government could take.

Figure 4

These data suggest conservatives’ attempts to portray outsourcing as no big deal and nothing to worry about are doomed to fail. The public is in no mood for happy talk on this one.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.