American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas this year

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    U.S. companies hiring — but mostly overseas

    Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn’t anyone hiring?

    Actually, many American companies are — just maybe not in your town.

    The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, says American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas this year, compared with less than 1 million in the U.S.

    The additional 1.4 million jobs would have lowered the U.S. unemployment rate to 8.9 percent (it’s currently 9.8 percent), says Robert Scott, the institute’s senior international economist.

    “There’s a huge difference between what is good for American companies versus what is good for the American economy,” says Scott.

    All but 4 percent of the top 500 U.S. corporations reported profits this year, and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown.

    American jobs have been moving overseas for more than two decades. In recent years, though, those jobs have become more sophisticated — think semiconductors and software, not toys and clothes.

    “Companies will go where there are fast-growing markets and big profits,” says Jeffrey Sachs, globalization expert and economist at Columbia University. “What’s changed is that companies today are getting top talent in emerging economies, and the U.S. has to really watch out.”

    With the future looking brighter overseas, companies are building there, too.

    Caterpillar, the Peoria-based maker of the signature yellow bulldozers and tractors, has invested in three new plants in China in just the last two months to design and manufacture equipment. The decision is based on demand: Asia-Pacific sales soared 38 percent in the first nine months of the year, compared with 16 percent in the U.S. Caterpillar stock is up 65 percent this year.

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