U.S. Multinational Companies Strengthen the Domestic Economy

Study demonstrates how domestic multinationals contribute to American productivity and prosperity

Washington, D.C., March 16, 2009 – A study published today by the United States Council Foundation confirms that – contrary to public belief – U.S. multinationals strengthen the domestic economy by enhancing America’s productivity, leading to job creation and increased compensation for our workers. The study, “How U.S. Multinational Companies Strengthen the U.S. Economy,” published jointly with the Business Roundtable, challenges recent concerns regarding the balance of these corporations’ domestic and international activities.

“The notion that U.S. multinationals have ‘abandoned’ our country by shipping the majority of their operations overseas is not supported by the facts,” said author Matthew J. Slaughter, associate dean of the MBA program and professor of International Economics at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. “We live in a society that is truly interconnected on a global scale. Consumers demand access to goods and services from all over the world. Therefore, the success of these companies increasingly depends on their engagement in the global marketplace. Their leaders must make strategic investment and employment decisions from an international perspective, linking all locations to take advantage of the dynamic world market.”

According to Slaughter, U.S. parent companies account for nearly 25 percent of all private-sector output (measured in terms of GDP), or more than $2.5 trillion.

“U.S. multinational companies are, first and foremost, American companies,” noted Slaughter. “These companies strengthen the American economy through a combination of their domestic activity and their international engagement, which together stimulate capital investment, research and development, and trade. These productivity-enhancing activities, in turn, lead to more job opportunities and to larger average paychecks for millions of American workers.”

Slaughter contends that the central role U.S. multinational companies play in underpinning U.S. economic growth and jobs creation is even more important today as the United States addresses challenges presented by the current economic environment.

“Strong U.S. multinational companies that are able to compete effectively in foreign markets will be better positioned to help lead America out of recession,” said Slaughter.  “By preserving and enhancing the health, vitality and competitiveness of their worldwide operations, U.S. multinational companies can help stem job losses in the United States and, eventually, hire more American workers.”

Additionally, the study found that U.S. multinationals maintain a large presence in America, both relative to the overall domestic economy and relative to the size of foreign affiliates. The worldwide operations of U.S. multinational companies are highly concentrated in America, not abroad in their foreign affiliates. Domestic parent companies accounted for nearly 70 percent of worldwide employment of U.S multinationals, that is, almost 22 million U.S. workers versus 9.5 million at affiliates. This translates into a ratio of nearly 2.3 U.S. employees for every one affiliate employee and represents about 19 percent of total private-sector payroll employment.

Slaughter argues that this global connection has allowed U.S. multinationals to tap into diverse international markets, which have experienced faster growth throughout the past generation than the United States. This foreign-affiliate activity, he believes, helps drive increased domestic employment, worker compensation and capital investments.

“Being globally engaged requires U.S. multinationals to establish operations abroad and expand and integrate these foreign activities with their U.S. parent activities,” said Slaughter. “The idea that this international expansion tends to ‘hollow out’ domestic operations is incorrect. Rather, the success of American operations of these companies depends on success abroad and vice versa. Ultimately, it’s the linkage and right balance of domestic and international operations that increases productivity of these corporations and promotes a higher standard of living for all Americans.”

Foreign affiliates are located primarily in high-income countries that in many ways have economic structures similar to the U.S., not in low-income countries. Affiliates in high-income countries accounted for 79 percent of total affiliate output.

This study was commissioned by Business Roundtable, an association of America’s leading CEOs, and the United States Council Foundation, the educational arm of United States Council for International Business (USCIB).

The full text and findings of “How U.S. Multinational Companies Strengthen the U.S. Economy” can be found by clicking here as well as at www.businessroundtable.org.

USCIB promotes international engagement and prudent regulation in support of open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility. Its members include top U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world.  With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.

Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers-ud-736-UD-736 of leading U.S. companies with more than $5 trillion in annual revenues and nearly 10 million employees. Member companies comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock markets and pay nearly half of all corporate income taxes paid to the federal government. Annually, they return $133 billion in dividends to shareholders and the economy.

Business Roundtable companies give more than $7 billion a year in combined charitable contributions, representing nearly 60 percent of total corporate giving. They are technology innovation leaders, with more than $70 billion in annual research and development spending – more than a third of the total private R&D spending in the U.S.

Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
(212) 703-5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

Kirk Monroe, Business Roundtable
(202) 496-3269 or kmonroe@businessroundtable.org

Study: “How U.S. Multinational Benefit the U.S. Economy”

More on the United States Council Foundation

Business Roundtable website

Staff Contact:   Kira Yevtukhova

Deputy Director, Marketing and Communications
Tel: 202.617.3160

Kira Yevtukhova manages USCIB’s print and online publications, including the website, e-newsletter and quarterly magazine, and serves as the organization’s digital media strategist. Prior to this role, Kira worked for over five years within USCIB’s Policy Department, focusing on climate change, environment, nutrition, health, and chemicals related policy issues. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and has an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
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