National and International Economic and Labor Market Trends
Modern industrial market economies are being transformed by some basic trends that affect every country in the world. These trends are changing the industrial economies into what are sometimes called postindustrial societies, though we prefer to characterize the American economy of the 1980 s and beyond as an internationalized information society. These trends strongly affect labor markets, industrial relations, and labor market institutions and will therefore be examined in this chapter before we proceed with our analysis of other matters.
One of the most important economic trends since World War II has been the internationalization of the American and other national economies. International trade accounted for 9 percent of U.S. gross national product (GNP) in 1950 and about 25 percent in 1980. In the first half of the 1980 s more than half of all profits for American corporations came from overseas, and international trade accounted for one third of all U.S. cropland, one fourth of farm income (in fact, more U.S. than Japanese land was used to feed the Japanese), and one sixth of all jobs (including 4.8 million manufacturing jobs). Over 70 percent of all manufactured goods in the United States was in direct competition with imports. Similarly, over 25 percent of the growth in the U.S. population during the 1970 s came from immigrants (legal and illegal) and refugees.
The internationalization of national economies was accelerated by a number of forces after World War II. One of the most important of these was the relative position of the United States in the world economy and our interest in a relatively free and open international trading system. We therefore joined with other countries to form institutions to facilitate international trade and finance -- the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (The World Bank), and aid programs for the reconstruction of Europe and Japan. The dominant role of the United States in the