By Robert E. Scott for Economic Policy Institute

The White House is making one last push for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. However, growing imports of goods from low-wage, less-developed countries, which nearly tripled from 2.9 percent of GDP in 1989 to 8.4 percent in 2011, reduced the wages of the typical non-college educated worker in 2011 by “5.5 percent, or by roughly $1,800—for a full-time, full year worker earning the average wage for workers without a four-year college degree,” as shown by my colleague Josh Bivens.

Overall, there are nearly 100 million American workers without a 4-year degree. The wage losses suffered by this group amount to roughly a full percentage point of GDP—about $180 billion per year. Workers without a 4-year degree constitute a bit less than 70 percent of the overall workforce, but three-quarters of black workers (75.5 percent) and more than four-fifths (85.0 percent) of Hispanic workers do not have a 4-year degree. While educational attainment levels for blacks and Hispanics are rising, differences remain.

 


Six of the twelve members of the TPP (Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, and Brunei) are low-wage, developing countries, and if the TPP leads to expanding trade with these countries it will contribute to a continuing growth of imports and growing downward pressure on the wages of non-college educated workers. This deal would be especially harmful to black and Hispanic workers, who already suffer higher unemployment and lower wages than whites.


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