That has fueled a shift in jobs, with large U.S. multinational corporations reducing their U.S. employment while adding jobs in other countries. U.S. multinationals cut more than 800,000 jobs in the United States in 2000-2009, according to the Commerce Department. They added 2.9 million overseas in the same period, the most recent data available.
The Great Recession and the sluggish recovery may have blunted that trend. Labor costs have fallen, particularly in manufacturing, as unions in many industries have accepted lower pay to preserve jobs. At the same time, businesses have cut costs and boosted efficiency. Productivity grew at the fastest pace in 18 months in last year's third quarter.
"The U.S. is becoming a pretty reasonable place to manufacture," said Gary Clyde Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "We are more competitive."
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