Study: China trade wallops Oregon Jobs

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Archives - September 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008

STATEWIDE According to a recent study by a Washington D.C.-based think tank, job loss due to trade with China has hit Oregon harder than nearly any other state in the nation. The report by the Economic Policy Institute shows that in the seven years following the admission of China into the World Trade Organization in 2001, trade with the country cost Oregon 2.9% of its workforce — the fourth-largest drop.

According to the study, 2.3 million American jobs were lost or displaced between 2001 and 2007 as the U.S. trade deficit with China increased from $84 billion to $262 billion. The reasons cited by the Institute for that deficit increase are well known to the business community: China’s manipulation of its currency, its non-tariff barriers to imports and its suppression of labor rights.

However, the study may not have fully addressed some of the factors that offset those losses. Art Ayre, employment economist with the Oregon Employment Department, could not comment on the specifics of the report. He did, however, describe how his department had attempted to do a similar analysis on job loss due to trade with Mexico but were stymied by several factors, including that trade agreements create cheaper goods for American consumers and help retain high-paying domestic jobs, all of which creates more disposable income, which in turn generates new jobs.

“We came to the conclusion that it was impossible to tell what the impacts of trade [with Mexico] were,” Ayre says.

Joy Margheim, a policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy, says she hopes the Institute’s report will remind state policy makers of the importance of safety nets — such as job retraining programs — for employees.

“In the past if you were laid off because of an economic cycle, you could get your job back,” she says. “But now we’re looking at permanent shifts in the economy.”         

ABRAHAM HYATT
ChinaTradeChart

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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