Study: Imports Lower Consumer Prices While Creating U.S. Jobs

In Industry News, What's New by Jeff PrineLeave a Comment

Imports WorkWashington—To coincide with “Imports Work Week” May 6 to 10, several U.S. trade associations released a new study that shows how imports improve American families’ stand of living by ensuring a wide selection of budget-pleasing goods including apparel, footwear and accessories.

“Imports provide American families with products they need at prices they can afford, and also create jobs that keep those families prosperous,” Matthew Shay, president/ceo of the National Retail Federation (NRF) “Retailers sell millions of imported items while U.S. manufacturers rely heavily on imported parts and raw materials to create the exports they ship around the world. Imports are a win for every segment of our nation’s economy, from the factory floor to the checkout line.”

The “Imports Work for America” study found that because of imports, American families continue to spend even less of their family budgets on apparel and footwear but get even more. When examining Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) data prepared by the U.S. Department of Labor, American families spent only 2.6% of their annual income on clothes and shoes in 2012. This number represents a significant drop over the last decade.”

In fact, in 1999, apparel alone accounted for 3.5% of an average family’s annual spending. Despite families committing less of their family budgets to apparel and footwear purchases, consumption continues to climb and the U.S. apparel and footwear employment grew more than three percent over last year.

“Most Americans don’t realize it takes more than four million U.S. workers to help them get dressed each day,” said Kevin M. Burke, president/ceo at American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA). “This new study by the Trade Partnership is a valuable study that will help us educate policy makers and the public about the positive impact of imports for U.S. jobs and our economy.

Protectionist Tariffs Raise Import Prices

Among other key findings in the “Imports Work for America” study:

●Imports could lower prices for consumers even more if not for protectionist U.S. tariffs. Shoes, for example, carry tariffs as high as 48%, apparel 32%, drinking glasses 29%, porcelain or China dinnerware sets 26%, and bed linens 21%.

●At $138.7 billion annually, home furnishings are the second-largest category of imported consumer goods after automobiles, followed by apparel at $99.8 billion. Computers, consumer electronics, toys and footwear are all in the top 10.

●Imports support more than 16 million American jobs, or 9% of U.S. employment. A large number of these import-related jobs are union jobs, and many are held by minorities and women. Included are 1.8 million retail jobs, or 10% of direct retail employment.

●More than half the firms that import directly are small businesses, employing fewer than 50 workers.

●American manufacturers rely on imports of raw materials and intermediate goods to lower their production costs and stay competitive in domestic and international markets. Factories and farms purchase more than 60% of U.S. imports.

●Imports generate exports. The United States is integrated into international supply chains so that even U.S. imports contain U.S. exports, particularly those generated in high-skilled and capital-intensive stages of production such as R&D and design.

The study was prepared by economists Laura M. Baughman and Joseph F. Francois of the Trade Partnership Worldwide for NRF, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Consumer Electronics Association, and AAFA. More information is available at




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