General Question

pleiades's avatar

When did a majority of companies in the USA ship jobs overseas?

Asked by pleiades (6571points) January 22nd, 2013

What decade did most of this take place? 1990s or 2000s?

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12 Answers

Judi's avatar

The 80’s I believe. The Regan years.

ETpro's avatar

Yep. It started full force in the 1980s. Washington policy wonks thought it was a great idea. They talked of the US transitioning to the next higher phase of economy. We’d transitioned from agriculture to manufacturing, and now it was time to transition from manufacturing to services. We’d go around the world and get paid really big bucks to tell other countries how to do manufacturing.

There were a couple of gaping holes in that thinking. First, the US never transitioned out of agriculture. We just automated it, and transitioned the labor force from it to manufacturing. But even today, we are the world’s largest food exporter, even though in the 1700s the ag business employed 90% of our population and today it employs less than 5%. Second, you aren’t going to teach six-sigma manufacturing methods to people who are doing the manufacturing when you aren’t doing it to learn six-sigma quality practices yourself.

But it was all just a smokescreen anyway. The right-wing think tanks funded by the Koch Brothers and the Waltons, et al came up with that crock of baloney to make it sound like a great idea to offshore our jobs when the real great idea was to reduce their costs so their billions could grow even faster. That part worked like a charm. The Walton family now has a net worth greater than the bottom 40% of the American public.

Reagan was just likeable, glib and dim-witted enough for the big boys to use as their dupe to sell the whole program.

rojo's avatar

Late 80’s, Early 90’s.

Remember “Afta Nafta comes the Shafta”?

woodcutter's avatar

That was Perot’s “giant sucking sound” comment during the election campaign in’92.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Middle 1980’s my company’s IT department started using program “coders” in India. Development and trials were in the USA and 85% of the programs were written overses.

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t believe a majority of companies ever shifted jobs overseas. Most companies are small companies and can’t do that.

Jaxk's avatar

It has been slowly transitioning since the fifties. After WWII the rest of the world was destroyed. The USA was the only country left with a manufacturing base and we supplied the world. During the 50s we generated full half of the worlds Gross Product. That couldn’t continue. As Europe and Asia rebuilt, they began to supply more and more of the manufacturing and it was both natural and productive for American companies to build some of thier product overseas, closer to the customer base in order to compete. To make matters worse we began to experience horrible pollution. Air and water were deteriorating at rapid rate. This prompted the creation of the EPA which has made great strides in cleaning up our environment. Unfortunately it also created a heavy burden for manufacturing.

During the 90s with the advent of the Internet and global communications, things like customer service and engineering could be done anywhere in the world. Globalization took off. The recession of 2000 marked a dramatic drop in manufacturing jobs and we have not recovered.

Linda_Owl's avatar

It started under President Reagan. He suggested tax breaks for the corporations that were willing to close mfg plants in the US & open the mfg plants in the various third world countries. The tax breaks have never been closed (the Republicans in Congress has taken great pains to keep these tax breaks in place). So the jobs losses in the US has continued.

Jaxk's avatar


I don’t suppose you could tell us what tax breaks you’re talking about could you? Personally I’m not aware of any.

Jaxk's avatar


Fair enough. I’m not sure how that relates to Reagan since it is merely a moving expense no different than moving between states or cities. It is a typical business expense that would require some fairly convoluted tax code to single out. Nothing that was passed to provide a loophole.

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