Study Finds 21 Million U.S. Jobs Depend On Imports

Multiple business organizations joined together to release “Imports Work for American Workers,” an economic impact study which found that imports support more than 21 million American jobs.

Arizona imported $7.9 billion in goods and merchandise from Mexico in 2017, 38% of Arizona’s $20.6 billion in global imports.

Arizona’s exports were valued at $19.7 billion in 2020, down 20.1% over the year due to the COVID recession. In 2019 exports accounted for 6.7% of the state’s GDP.

The new 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.

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 both support and hurt these jobs.

The American Apparel and 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.