One-fifth of Wisconsin jobs supported by international trade, report shows

Nearly one-fifth of all Wisconsin jobs are directly supported by international trade, according to a recent study from Business Roundtable, a national public policy group led by CEOs of major U.S. companies.

The group is calling for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, highlighting the importance of free trade both to the national economy and to individual states. The USMCA was signed by the presidents of the three countries in November but has yet to be ratified by all three governments.

Tom Linebarger, chair of the Business Roundtable Trade and International Committee, says the group’s members “strongly support congressional passage of USMCA implementing legislation this year.” The companies they lead collectively employ more than 15 million people.

The study shows international trade supports 748,500 jobs in the state, and 231,200 of those depend on trade with Mexico and Canada.

Exports from Wisconsin to these two countries have risen by 288 percent since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994, the study shows. In roughly the same timeframe, the share of Wisconsin jobs supported by international trade nearly doubled, from 10.1 percent to 20.3 percent in 2017.

The study also found the number of international trade-supported jobs in the state nearly doubled under NAFTA. That’s nearly six times faster than total employment increased during that period, the study shows.

Report authors found Wisconsin exported $10.9 billion in goods and services to Canada and Mexico in 2017. Overall, the state exported $22.7 billion in goods and $6.3 billion in services in 2017.

They also found export growth in the state has been driven by free trade agreements. In 2017, 54 percent of Wisconsin’s goods exported — $12.3 billion — went to free trade agreement partners. That’s risen by 33 percent since 2007.

Wisconsin has 8,485 exporter companies, 87 percent of which are small to medium companies with fewer than 500 workers.

Of all U.S. states, Wisconsin is the top exporter of swine and cattle, as well as miscellaneous transportation equipment, the report shows. And Wisconsin is the second-highest exporter of dairy products.

Wisconsin’s top export markets for goods are Canada, China and Mexico, but its top export market for services is Ireland. Other partnerships, though smaller, have seen consistent growth in the past decade. Wisconsin’s goods exports to Saudi Arabia have gone up by 12 percent every year since 2007, while exports to Hong Kong have grown by 21 percent per year.

The report also includes an overview of foreign-owned companies in Wisconsin. These businesses employ 98,600 people, 48,800 of which are in manufacturuing jobs. The second largest category is “other,” with 25,900 workers. The next three largest are wholesale trade, with 8,600; finance and insurance, with 6,800; and retail trade, with 4,500.

About 15,400 Wisconsin workers are employed by United Kingdom companies, while 15,100 workers in the state work for Canadian companies. That’s followed by 9,800 workers at German companies, 8,800 workers at French companies and 8,800 workers at Swiss companies.

See the summary for Wisconsin:

See the full report: