16. Multinational Corporations and U.S. Unemployment

Unemployment continued at high levels throughout the United States during 1976. Reasons given the public for the high unemployment rate ranged from a "soft economy" to the weather to increasing automation to lack of consumer demand. However, little attention was devoted to the impact of multinational corporations, MNC, on the work force within the nation. In early 1976, author/researcher Robert Cox reported that organized labor movements are seeking government controls over MNC's so as to stop the "export of jobs." While the MNC's reply to organized labor was that they were in fact creating more jobs at home, many of these "new Jobs" are unlikely to be available to displaced workers. Openings for systems analysts are not very helpful to auto assembly workers. Jobs lost and jobs created cannot be neatly balanced but have to be looked at in the more personal terms of the transferability of individuals with particular skills and habits. Authors Barnet and Muller had earlier exposed the fallacy of the
MNC claim to creating new jobs. Between 1966 and 1970, according to a Department of Commerce study, the 298 U.S. based global firms had a 5.3% annual growth rate in employment overseas. During the same period, they had a growth rate in domestic employment of only 2.7%. By the end of 1970, more than 25% of all the employees of these U.S. based multinational corporations were employed outside the territory of the United States. The impact of MNC production in foreign countries on the unemployment picture in the U.S. qualifies this story for nomination as one of the "best censored" stories of 1976.

SOURCES: "Labor and the Multinationals" by Robert Cox; Foreign Affairs, January 1976.
Global Reach by Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller, Simon Schuster, New York, 1974.