Is there any data/statistics to backup some people's claims that NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) has caused job loss in the manufacturing sector?

1 Answer 1


The Economic Policy Institute published a report of its findings on the economic impact of NAFTA back in 2011. They analyzed Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics data and came up with a net job loss of ~700,000 in the United States since NAFTA took effect.

As of 2010, U.S. trade deficits with Mexico totaling $97.2 billion had displaced 682,900 U.S. jobs. Of those jobs, 116,400 are likely economy-wide job losses because they were displaced between 2007 and 2010, when the U.S. labor market was severely depressed.

Prominent economists and U.S. government officials predicted that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would lead to growing trade surpluses with Mexico and that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be gained (Hufbauer and Schott 1993; President Clinton 1993). The evidence shows that the predicted surpluses in the wake of NAFTA’s enactment in 1994 did not materialize.

The Huffington Post also ran a piece on this report which claims the AFL-CIO agrees with EPI's assessment.

  • Note that this doesn't measure jobs created by NAFTA. At best, they might measure new export related jobs. They won't measure jobs created by cheaper inputs. Or jobs that would have been prevented by more expensive inputs.
    – Brythan
    Jul 31, 2016 at 3:54
  • There's also been a trend in America that manufacturing jobs are increasingly being done by machines and robots. How does this study take into account or estimate the jobs that would have been "lost" to automation over this time period?
    – lazarusL
    Jul 31, 2016 at 21:07
  • 1
    I don't believe this study accounts for either of those variables. However, OP asked for statistics that back up the claim and this report does that. Good luck finding any study or statistics that account for all variables and that are 100% airtight.
    – jebar8
    Jul 31, 2016 at 22:31

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