21 Million U.S. Jobs Depend on Imports, New Study Shows

Business Groups Release Report Highlighting Trade Benefits

May 20, 2021 | WASHINGTON, D.C.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association today joined eight other business organizations to release “Imports Work for American Workers,” an economic impact study which found that imports support more than 21 million American jobs. 
The study focuses on the net impact of imports on U.S. jobs — including statistics on sectors such as retail, apparel, transportation, manufacturing and consumer technology. The study also looks at how imports support jobs in states across the U.S. as well as trade policy initiatives pending before Congress and the administration with the potential to preserve or diminish import-related jobs.
“Imports to the United States are critical to the health of the U.S. economy and to providing diverse, quality goods to American consumers,” said AAFA Senior Vice President of Policy, Nate Herman. “Imports are also key to the U.S. global value chain, directly employing millions of American workers in product development, sourcing, and compliance that turn those designs into product; the transportation and logistics managers, warehouse workers, the truckers who ensure that product makes it to market; and the merchandisers and salespeople who get that product sold.” 
Among the key findings:

  • Imports support more than 21 million American jobs across the country, including a net positive number in every U.S. state. The 10 states accounting for the largest number of import-related jobs are California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
  • Imports from key trading partners — including Canada, China, the European Union and Mexico — support a net positive number of U.S. jobs. 
  • Import-related jobs are good jobs that pay competitive wages. Nearly 8 million of the jobs related to importing are held by minorities and 2.5 million jobs are held by workers represented by unions. 
  • The vast majority (96 percent) of companies who import are small or medium-sized businesses.
  • U.S. trade policies, many now pending before Congress and the administration, have the potential to either support or hurt these jobs.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association, the American Chemistry Council, the Consumer Technology Association, the National Foreign Trade Council, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Fashion Industry Association and the U.S. Global Value Chain Coalition commissioned the study, which was prepared by Laura M. Baughman and Dr. Joseph F. Francois of Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC. 
The study is being released during “World Trade Week” as part of “World Trade Month” to highlight the essential role that imports play in the U.S. and global economy. 
View the full report here.