International Companies Are Part of America's Economic Bedrock

Story Stream
recent articles

Seven million jobs. One billion dollars per day in exports. $79,040 average per worker compensation.

These are just some of the data points that demonstrate the benefits of foreign direct investment in the United States. America is known as a land of opportunity – thanks to our robust economy and industrious workforce. Our economy's strength is not purely a result of domestic ingenuity, though. For decades, international companies have been building facilities, expanding operations and hiring U.S. workers across the country.

A new economic analysis by Daniel Ikenson casts an important light on the role of international companies in the success of America's 21st century economy. Unfortunately, recent government data suggest that international companies are growing more uncertain about investing in the United States. In fact, in the first half of 2018, America has seen a dramatic drop in foreign direct investment (FDI). The most recent quarter saw a divestment of more than $8 billion – the first negative quarter since 2014. 

The economic consequences of divestiture from foreign companies are dire. As government regulators shape policy it is critical to underscore the benefits of FDI for local communities across the U.S.

Let's take Zurich Insurance for example. Our origins in the U.S. began when Swiss national and assistant manager of Zurich Insurance August L. Tobler visited Chicago twice in 1912 to look for new business opportunities. Now 100-plus years later, Zurich's U.S business generates nearly $15 billion in revenue. We employ 9,000 people in the U.S. and help protect more than ninety percent of the Fortune 500, as well as hundreds of America's farmers as one of the largest providers of crop insurance.

Most important to our economy are the jobs companies create, and Zurich is joined by a number of other global companies generating thousands of high-paying jobs here in the U.S. Currently, 6.8 million U.S. workers earn their paycheck from an international company operating in the United States. And, as I said earlier, the average compensation for these workers is $79,040, which is roughly 24 percent higher than the U.S. private-sector average.

For Zurich North America, job creation is a priority, which is why we established a first-of-its-kind U.S. apprenticeship program for the insurance industry that resembles a program that has been successful for many years at our Switzerland headquarters. To meet the growing demand for cyber security professionals, we recently added cyber security to our 2018 roster of professional apprenticeship programs. In 2017, the U.S. employed nearly 780,000 people in cyber security positions, while over 300,000 cyber security jobs remained unfilled, according to CyberSeek.

In addition to boosting job creation and developing a highly-skilled workforce, international companies are giving back to their local communities and charities, and reinvesting profits into research and development. These contributions make the U.S. economy more resilient and build a stronger America.

For example, Zurich supports six core charities and more than 250 local nonprofits to give back to the communities where we live and work. We donate millions of dollars each year through corporate and employee giving and quickly mobilize to raise funds for hurricane relief efforts, such as Hurricane Florence.

The positive impact global companies have in the U.S. are clear. To help the U.S. remain economically competitive, the Organization for International Investment has created their own "risk management strategy" for U.S. policymakers. One recommendations is to create a national Global Competitiveness Council, which would generate a foreign direct investment (FDI) policy roadmap outlining how the U.S. can achieve a national goal of increasing FDI by 20 percent within the next four years. This Competitiveness Council would allow international companies to be proactive in U.S. policymaking, providing a forum for feedback on the unique impact that regulatory actions could have on international companies operating in the U.S. This is the kind of collaboration we hope policymakers will embrace.

Global companies continue to be a part of the foundation of America's economic success, and as Mr. Ikenson notes in the conclusion of the Economic Bedrock report, "as long as creating value, growing GDP and providing high-quality jobs for U.S. workers remain objectives of public policy, international companies should be encouraged to come and establish operations."

Ms. Savio is Chief Executive Officer for Zurich North America. 

Show comments Hide Comments

Related Articles