Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Monday December 14th, 2015, 5:08pm

Report: Walmart's China Imports Displaced 400,000 U.S. Jobs

More than 400,000 U.S. jobs were displaced between 2001 and 2013 due to Walmart's imports from China, according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Of those displaced U.S. jobs, 314,500 were in the manufacturing sector, the progressive think tank found.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, imported over $49 billion worth of goods from China in 2013, up from $11.4 billion in 2001, when China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to the research.

The report showed that Walmart likely drove about 15 percent of the U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013, representing an increase of $36.7 billion over that time period.

The U.S. goods trade deficit with China grew from $84.1 billion in 2001 to $324.2 billion in 2013.

"The current unbalanced U.S.-China trade relationship is bad for both countries, and Walmart has played a major role in creating that imbalance," wrote report author Robert Scott, EPI's director of trade and manufacturing policy research. "The United States is piling up foreign debt, losing export capacity, and facing a more fragile macroeconomic environment."

Overall, about 3.2 million American jobs have been lost due to the U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013, EPI found.

"The U.S. relationship with China needs fundamental change: addressing the exchange rate policies and labor standards issues in the Chinese economy should be important national priorities," Scott added. "Walmart's huge reliance on Chinese imports illustrates that many powerful economic actors in the United States benefit from China's unfair trading system. Walmart's gain, however, is not the country's gain, as Walmart's imports have contributed to the ever-growing trade deficit that imperils future economic growth."

A Walmart spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. In a statement to other media outlets about EPI's report, the retailer said:

We are very proud of our U.S. manufacturing initiative and the results speak for themselves. By investing in products that support American jobs, we are able to bring new products to our shelves while bringing new jobs to local communities in Ohio, Tennessee, California, and many others.

Unfortunately, this is an old report with flawed economic analysis that assumes that imports equal job losses and does not take into consideration that countless jobs are added through the global supply chain, distribution and logistics, among other areas of the business.

Based on data from Boston Consulting Group, it's estimated that 1 million new U.S. jobs will be created through Walmart's U.S. manufacturing initiative, including direct manufacturing job growth of approximately 250,000, and indirect job growth of approximately 750,000 in the support and service sectors.

The U.S. manufacturing initiative cited in Walmart's statement was launched in 2013. The program seeks to boost purchases of U.S. goods by $50 billion over 10 years. Scott weighed in on that effort in his report, explaining that the initiative has thus far created "very few actual U.S. jobs."

Moreover, Walmart's trade deficit with China since 2001 has cost "more than 100 U.S. jobs for every actual or promised job created through this program," he added.

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