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.