The US Commerce Department released a report today throwing into sharp relief just how drastically US multinational corporations are shifting jobs overseas. During the 2000s, US companies cut 2.9 million jobs in the US, while hiring 2.4 million abroad—including an increasing number of highly-skilled workers, the Wall Street Journal reports. That’s a big reversal from the 1990s, when they hired 4.4 million at home and 2.7 million abroad.
These big companies employ roughly a fifth of all US workers. “It’s definitely something to worry about,” says one former George W. Bush adviser. Companies generally defend the trend by saying that productivity has increased in their US factories, and that they are chasing sales abroad. “We’ve globalized around markets, not cheap labor,” says GE CEO Jeff Immelt. “Today we go to Brazil, we go to China, we go to India, because that’s where the customers are.”