NEW YORK – Foreign companies have created millions of jobs in the United States, far outpacing the amount of work that American businesses have shifted abroad, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao (search) said Wednesday.
While the movement of U.S. jobs to other countries has caused great public concern, Chao said, "I'm trying to get out the facts" without sounding "callous."
In the past year, employers have eliminated about 300,000 jobs in the United States in favor of cheaper labor elsewhere, Chao said. Yet about 9 million Americans currently work for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies, she said.
"People talk about (outsourcing) a lot," Chao said in an interview after appearing before Missouri delegates at the Republican convention. "The anxiety belies the numbers."
In February, the Bush administration drew criticism when it stated in its annual economic report that sending jobs out of the United States "makes more sense" when the goods or services involved can be produced more cheaply abroad.
After a political firestorm, N. Gregory Mankiw (search), Bush's economic adviser and chief author of the report, was forced to apologize for remarks he said were "far from clear and were misinterpreted."
Democrat John Kerry and others have criticized Bush for the transfer of American jobs to overseas workers. Kerry's economic plan includes the elimination of federal tax credits for companies that send jobs overseas.
"I think it's pretty clear the Republican Party and George Bush and his allies are out of touch with the anxiety" workers feel, said Bill Burton, a spokesman for Kerry's presidential campaign.
Chao said the administration is concerned about every lost job, but realizes job shuffling is part of a dynamic economy that constantly requires workers to get new training. She said the Bush administration spends $23 billion on over 30 job training programs.
"We understand the concern and the anxiety on this issue," Chao said. "My point also is we live and work in a worldwide economy. ... If we isolate ourselves from this worldwide economy, we will put in jeopardy the 9 million jobs that Americans currently hold" in foreign-owned companies.