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Volume 7, Issue 3  -  July, 2001

Massive Layoffs Follow in Wake of Orbiting Trade Deficits
By William Gill, President ACCT

Grasping at any straw that might temporarily put a better face on an economy drowning in the unrelenting tidal wave of imports, the seers of Washington and Wall Street took solace in a slight dip in the trade deficit for April reported in late June.

"The countryís trade imbalance shrank to $32.2 Billion, a 2.7 percent decrease from Marchís $33.1 billion deficit," the Associated Press trumpeted. But the actual trade deficit for April calculated on a goods only balance of payments basis was $37.84 Billion with imports flooding into the country to the terrible tune of nearly $100 Billion.

Canada led the way with $19.01 Billion in exports to the U.S. while Mexico added $10.49 Billion of their goods pouring across our porous borders north and south. Even China and Japan together couldnít approach that though each of them alone nearly reached our NAFTA deficit of $6.83 Billion.

China sold us a healthy $7.68 Billion in goods while buying a comparably piddling $1.38 in exports from the U.S., thereby slapping America with an unhealthy $6.30 deficit for the month. Japan hit us with $11.52 Billion in exports and absorbed only $5.09 Billion of Made in America goods, chalking up a $6.43 Billion surplus against us.

When will somebody ask The Question: Why do we trade with predators like this at all? Month after month, year after year, decade after decade Uncle Sam gets taken to the cleaners as our factories and jobs are wiped out and our once mighty industrial base is reduced to a pale shadow of its former self. But no one in authority questions where itís taken usÖ

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics served up its latest piece of fiction early last month, claiming the unemployment rate dipped in May to 4.4 percent from 4.5 in April. This time, however, someone blew the whistle on how the benighted Bureau keeps ostensible unemployment so low. Instead of the 250,000-to-300,000 Americans they routinely drop from their statistical rolls each month, for May they chopped off a whopping 600,000! The Bureau claims, with little or no evidence, these are people who have given up looking for work. So they donít count!

Manufacturing has been the hardest hit by job losses for months. This vital sector shed 124,000 jobs in May alone, its tenth straight month of falling employment. Since December factories have slashed no less than 370,000 jobs but even this alarming figure does not begin to mirror the ripple effect of smaller company suppliers of industrial plants who have had to slash their payrolls.

The once vaunted high-tech sector has spilled hundreds of thousands of its employees out onto the streets all across the country. Lucent Technologies, formerly Bell Labs, is cutting 16,000 more workers on top of several tens of thousands previously laid off. Nortel has dropped 15,000 since January 1. Avaya Communications, a Lucent spin-off, is cutting 3,000.

Unilever will cut 8,000 in addition to the 25,000 chopped from its international work force over the last five years. Dupont will fire 4,000 plus 1,300 contract workers. Newell Rubbermaid is axing 3,000. Polaroid 2,000. EMC, a data storage company, will drop 1,100. This is only a partial list. Every day this spring brought more layoffs.

Ironically, in the face of all these job cuts employers are insisting upon getting more visas for cheap wage foreign workers they want to hire! Microsoft, Motorola, Cisco, Oracle are just a few doing this.

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