NAFTA, Foreign Trade, and jobs

Cato’s Dan Griswold writes that “Ohio Needs More Foreign Trade” as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama denounce NAFTA in Ohio:

Ohio workers would pay a heavy price for pulling out of Nafta. Canada and Mexico are the top two markets for exports from Ohio, accounting for more than half of the state’s exports in 2006. According to the Ohio Department of Development, 283,500 workers in the state earn their living in the export sector, with machinery, car parts, aircraft engines and optical/medical equipment among the leading exports. A trade showdown would put those good-paying jobs at risk.

Since Nafta took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, the U.S. economy has added a net 26 million new jobs. The average real hourly compensation (wages and benefits) of workers has climbed 23%. Real median household net worth has increased by a third. Of course, Nafta was not the primary driver of all that good news. But it is a useful counterpoint to the sense that large numbers of Americans have been “devastated” by Nafta and other trade agreements.

Mark Perry has some great charts on manufacturing jobs and productivity pre and post NAFTA over at CARPE DIEM.

Of course, anti-NAFTA rhetoric is just political bluster that shouldn’t be take seriously, as Obama and Clinton told their Canadian contacts.