U.S. tech exports create more than 900,000 jobs

Exports of technology products and services totaled nearly $340 billion in 2019

semiconductor chip

Despite ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China, American exports of technology increased once again in 2019, totaling $338 billion, a leading trade group says in a new report.

That translates into a massive number of jobs. U.S. tech exports directly supported 918,500 American tech industry jobs in 2018, according to the report. That’s an increase of more than 2% from the previous year.

These were the main conclusions of Tech Trade Snapshot 2020, an annual report released by CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association.

From 2010 through 2019, U.S. exports of technology goods and services rose by approximately $104 billion, translating to a stunning 44% growth, according to CompTIA. Tech services were the main driver of growth, rising nearly 76%, while tech product exports grew by 16%.

“Capitalizing on strong demand for digital transformation technologies, U.S. tech exports over the past few years have grown steadily,” said Tim Herbert, the group’s executive VP for research and market intelligence. 

“Looking ahead, while all signs point to a continuation of this demand as technology plays an ever-greater role across the global economy, the short term will undoubtedly be affected by the pandemic crisis.”

The IT industry appeared to be holding steady during at least the early part of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a different CompTIA report, the IT sector added about 8,500 new workers in March 2020, even as other U.S. industries lost roughly 19,000 jobs. 

Despite the overall positive trends, there were signs of a slowdown in 2019. Tensions between the U.S. and China — the world’s two largest economies — were the main cause.

The annual total of $338 billion in U.S. tech exports was a very slight increase of 0.3% over the previous year, the report said. Growth was way down compared to the 2017 and 2018 rates of 4.2% and 2.5%, respectively.

China is the third-largest destination for U.S. tech exports behind Canada and Mexico, according to CompTIA. However, tariffs have hindered trade between the two countries. The hardest-hit category of U.S. tech exports was semiconductors, where the average tariff rate now stands at 18.4%. 

CompTIA makes no secret of how it feels about tariffs: “Barriers to trade do not foster long-term economic growth, which is especially needed right now,” said Stefanie Holland, the trade group’s vice president for federal and global policy. 

A panel discussion on the annual Tech Trade Snapshot can be viewed here.

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