June 11, 2004 – In an economic debate that has largely been marked by racially-charged rhetoric, new data from the US Department of Labor (DOL) suggest there may not be much substance behind all the protectionist hype that surrounds outsourcing. In its first attempt to put a numerical figure on the outsourcing of well-paying service-sector jobs to developing countries like India and China, the DOL said 4,633 workers' jobs were transferred out of the US in the first three months of 2004. That accounts for about two percent of the 239,361 jobs US corporations cut in the US between January and March. While comparable quarterly figures have never been presented, private research figures have given a hugely disparate picture of the outsourcing debate, ranging from 690,000 jobs outsourced since 2001, according to the Wall Street Journal Online, and up to 3.3 million over the next decade, according to Forrester Research.
Election-year politics have seriously skewed the debate over whether jobs paid for by US corporations should be sent to non-US workers. Democrats have largely taken a nationalistic stance, asserting that "American jobs should be for Americans first," and therefore people in the developing world should not have access to these jobs. Meanwhile, many labor economists and activists have viewed the transfer of service-sector jobs to developing countries as a boon to citizens of the developing world. Still others have said that the demands for non-Western people to westernize in order to gain access to professional opportunities is a new form of the systemic racism that plagues corporate policies. Republicans, meanwhile, have largely been in favor of outsourcing for its low cost and high worker productivity, without giving any voice to the social and cultural arguments against it.