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Americans leaving US in record numbers

I am open to looking outside the US for employment when I graduate in a few years. I really have no reason not to.
 
Makes sense. I don't see the US job market ever recovering and there's going to be a permanent underclass of unemployed and poorly paid partly employed ("precariat"). This, together with the USA's threadbare social welfare provisions, makes staying in the USA completely unenticing.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
As a unAmerican I can't help but see this trend as largely good...
Too many Americans have no experience or even idea about the world outside it's borders, the % who have even never owned a passport is nearer that of a reclusive dictatorship than a developed country. Many will come back, bringing ideas and insights that wil help the US, some will stay, but their familiarity with their past will help US exports of goods and services.

TBeas says he's looking outside the US for employment which I think is so rational that I have to ask why this seems to so many people to be an odd thing ? Let's construct a non-US bashing argument for that:
The US leads the world in several areas and is ahead of most countries in most fields of economic activity.
If you stay in the US you will be up against some of the smartest and most motivated people on Earth.
There are no (zero) top finance schools in Asia, S.America, Russia or Africa and several US schools enjoy good brand value.
It follows that other you will have advantages over the locals in many places.
There is a paradox that although bulk Americans have little understanding of anywhere they couldn't drive to, many have recent ancestors and family links to other countries, making them more accessible.
As a newbie you don't have the luggage that accumulates over time and sensible risk/return is quite different.

Marina's point about US firms hiring from India illustrates my point about the % Americans who seem willfully ignorant of any foreign issue you can't get from Fox news.
Indian wage inflation, like Chinese is really quite high, the period where they are cheaper per hour is not only quite short, estimates on how long it will last keep getting resolved down. Also the defective legal system in India and the absence of one in China are economically grossly inefficient made worse by horrible corruption and infrastructure problems, so an Indian who costs $X per hour is very rarely as productive as an American who is paid more.
Recently I was talking with some senior management in large UK retailers. They hate producing their stuff in China.
Retail these days is a real time business with logistics being a dominant force in driving profitiability. When you see that customers are buying the blue coat more than the green one, you want a truck on it's way tomorrow morning, not a boat that will dock a week or two from now. Every day of latency between production and shop increases the risk that you'll buy a large inventory of something you can't sell and miss sales of others. Today, you can connect the factory computers directly to the shop, but transport anything that can't sensibly be flown from China or Indonesia is tedious and risky.

There are legitimate complaints that the US education system takes in vast resources but it's output is really awful with illiteracy, religious observance and innumeracy higher than in any other developed country, but although the best of the Indian system is pretty damned good, the average would make a graduate of a US bible college look like an intellectual. China is worse since the low standards are made worse by quite startling levels of corruption and dishonesty in evaluating students.
There is however hope for the bottom end of the income distribution in the USA despite their ignorance and superstition.
America has easily the most flexible workforce in the world and there are incentives to improve yourself and opportunities to improve your employability that are rare in the world and wholly absent in many countries.

The bottom line is that most 3rd world growth in places like India and China comes not from wise leadership or superior cultures, but because they have stopped doing so many outstandingly stupid things. However they've running out of easy reforms...
The choice of the elites in most 3rd world countries is between economic advancement or losing power.

Mr. Obama will lose power in a formal ceremony and fly peacefully away to write books and do whatever good works he feels appropriate. About 25% of the leaders in power in the world today will lose power through violent upheaval in their countries, that affects the economies. I can't tell you when it will happen in any particular country, but that's got to be taken account of in your long term decision making.
 
Makes sense. I don't see the US job market ever recovering and there's going to be a permanent underclass of unemployed and poorly paid partly employed ("precariat"). This, together with the USA's threadbare social welfare provisions, makes staying in the USA completely unenticing.


This is a serious exaggeration. If you look at the real number of US citizens actually living outside the country, almost half of them are in the americas, mainly Mexico and Canada. Those statistics dont take into account, dual citizens, ie individuals holding citizenship from Mexico or Canada. So in simple words about half of them living abroad have simply returned home to their country of origin either to be with family or for retirement ( to keep cost low )

The rest of them scattered in the other parts of the world, are definitely college graduates and are the kind who are there for particular assignment and will eventually return with a exception of very few who will stay. US is in bad shape but still is a $14 Trillion economy (by far the largest in the world)

It is lot more common to see British nationals overseas, not many Americans
 
This is a serious exaggeration. If you look at the real number of US citizens actually living outside the country, almost half of them are in the americas, mainly Mexico and Canada. Those statistics dont take into account, dual citizens, ie individuals holding citizenship from Mexico or Canada. So in simple words about half of them living abroad have simply returned home to their country of origin either to be with family or for retirement ( to keep cost low )

One argument might be that if the US had more generous social welfare provisions and wasn't slashing back on what little there has historically been, there might not be such emphasis on keeping costs low. Mexico and Canada are the easiest places to get to -- that makes sense. But another problem is that worthwhile countries -- like those of Northern Europe, for example -- have fiendishly difficult immigration laws.

At an anecdotal level, an American friend of mine has been in Amsterdam since 1984 and doesn't want to come back even to visit. Another of my American friends lived in Argentina for about 20 years, is now in Saudi on a 2-year contract and dreads the prospect of returning to the US (though he owns property in Philadelphia). Another American friend of mine tried to stay on in Estonia, overstayed on his visa and has been banned for three years -- though he remains eager to migrate to any European country that will have him. I personally know many Americans who live in Argentina -- and whine about the high inflation there -- but don't intend to come back to the US except for visits to family.

US is in bad shape but still is a $14 Trillion economy (by far the largest in the world)

At an individual level the GDP figure is meaningless if one can't get a job or dreads the prospect of unaffordable medical care or educating one's children. Furthermore, a case can be made that the $14T figure reflects an economy of smoke-and-mirrors. It's an anemic economy in serious long-term trouble.

It is lot more common to see British nationals overseas, not many Americans

A lot of Britons overseas, yes. Some of the reasons might be the same: a dismal economy with few job prospects; a state implacably slashing back on social welfare; expensive higher education; exorbitantly high-priced property; and add the depressing weather. Many used to go to places like Spain either for retirement, or to open something like a bar
 
There are legitimate complaints that the US education system takes in vast resources but it's output is really awful with illiteracy, religious observance and innumeracy higher than in any other developed country, but although the best of the Indian system is pretty damned good, the average would make a graduate of a US bible college look like an intellectual. China is worse since the low standards are made worse by quite startling levels of corruption and dishonesty in evaluating students.

I went to a Christian Reformed college, and I am finishing top in my classes in my MFE. My entire family is Christian, including an aunt and uncle who have Ph.Ds in Math and C.S. respectively (from U of Mich), and an uncle who owns his own actuarial business.

At an anecdotal level, an American friend of mine has been in Amsterdam since 1984 and doesn't want to come back even to visit. Another of my American friends lived in Argentina for about 20 years, is now in Saudi on a 2-year contract and dreads the prospect of returning to the US (though he owns property in Philadelphia). Another American friend of mine tried to stay on in Estonia, overstayed on his visa and has been banned for three years -- though he remains eager to migrate to any European country that will have him. I personally know many Americans who live in Argentina -- and whine about the high inflation there -- but don't intend to come back to the US except for visits to family.

I was born in Paris and lived in Spain most of my life, and I can't stand Europe...at least southern Europe. I would much rather live in the US than anywhere else in the world I have visited/lived.

it is a structural unemployment problem.

France until recently (the last decade or so) has had consistent unemployment over 10 percent. Until very recently the U.S. has had unemployment at around 5 percent. I fail to see the attraction of Europe. Perhaps Asia is more attractive, but the only "1st" world country in Asia is the stagnating Japan, so I don't think that attracts people from the US either.

At an individual level the GDP figure is meaningless if one can't get a job or dreads the prospect of unaffordable medical care or educating one's children. Furthermore, a case can be made that the $14T figure reflects an economy of smoke-and-mirrors. It's an anemic economy in serious long-term trouble.

Smoke and mirrors? How so? The US has the most diversified economy of any nation. If you are referring to credit bubbles as smoke and mirrors, than China is in much more trouble...their money supply has been expanding at a rate that makes the US look sane.
 
One argument might be that if the US had more generous social welfare provisions and wasn't slashing back on what little there has historically been, there might not be such emphasis on keeping costs low. Mexico and Canada are the easiest places to get to -- that makes sense. But another problem is that worthwhile countries -- like those of Northern Europe, for example -- have fiendishly difficult immigration laws.
At an anecdotal level, an American friend of mine has been in Amsterdam since 1984 and doesn't want to come back even to visit. Another of my American friends lived in Argentina for about 20 years, is now in Saudi on a 2-year contract and dreads the prospect of returning to the US (though he owns property in Philadelphia). Another American friend of mine tried to stay on in Estonia, overstayed on his visa and has been banned for three years -- though he remains eager to migrate to any European country that will have him. I personally know many Americans who live in Argentina -- and whine about the high inflation there -- but don't intend to come back to the US except for visits to family.


In most parts of the world, people pray more to go to USA than to actually even go to heaven, be it Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. 6.2 million US citizens living overseas, is barely 2% of the country population and doesnt really mean much considering people living overseas are dual citizens ( living with family) , retiring (who dont have enough to retire in USA so their US dollars go far in south america/asia/africa, anchor babies ( kids born to legal or illegal residents of the country and for some reason cannot live here ) , etc. I can go on and on to account for the 6.2 million. The real number of americans the kind that you have stated maybe 0.2 % of the US population and nowhere close 2 % that the actual statistics tell.
 
What is needed is better labor mobility. Obviously issues of culture/language/"sovereignty" exist, but with increased political and market integration it may one day be possible for a factory worker in the US who's lost a job that isn't coming back (and who can't/doesn't wish to be retrained) to move to an industrial hub (say, in China) that could use his expertise. There he would probably have a somewhat lower standard of living, but at least he would be doing meaningful work and not take whatever minimum wage jobs he can find. Not saying that any of this is possible in the short-term, though.
 
Wait, I am a little confused. The people who can leave the US and work are the kind of people who are 1) still employed and 2) don't really need social welfare programs. Middle management and day laborers are not expatriating to Europe or China.
 
Wait, I am a little confused. The people who can leave the US and work are the kind of people who are 1) still employed and 2) don't really need social welfare programs. Middle management and day laborers are not expatriating to Europe of China.

It's a Catch-22: those who would most like to emigrate are those least likely to have the money and skills to be able to do so. If you're skilled and/or moneyed enough to get accepted for immigration or work authorisation by, say, Germany, you probably already have a very good job in the USA or don't need to work at all.
 

DominiConnor

Quant Headhunter
Zeuge, already we are seeing jobs in China where they pay more than the US, not that many of course but the trend is up.
Material standard of living is a complex issue and heavily affected by personal preferences, but on average $X in China is worth more than in the USA.

I believe that the American experience in all this is not so much unique, but ahead in time of other countries.

When I was a new grad there were about 3-400 million economically relevant people in the world, Western Europe (with 1/3 of Germany missing) the USA/Canada and Oz/NZ/HK/Sg. Now that there are literally ten times as many people and some factor more companies to employ them and more people and firms to consume their output we have a much more liquid market for labour.

As in primitive financial markets there exist people whose income is driven by inefficiencies in the labour market, but those inefficiencies are moving away. A more liquid market will not allow economic actors to get higher prices for inferior supplies so we will see globally an increasing gap between rich and poor, but at the same time poor people who were shafted by the inefficient market will get richer both in absolute and relative to the middle. I see a thinning out of earnings for midscale jobs where the price for labour was skewed by inefficiency.

People whose skills are in high demand will see their pay go up and at the bottom the demand for menial labour will drift up, but also converge, therefore an American or European who does assemlby work will over time go to the same pay level. That's one we see the income gap increasing in the USA and it's not at all easy any way of stopping it that doesn't cause horrible effects on America or Europe's competitiveness.

When helping people upgrade their resumes, one thing I try to identify is some "I do X", skills that particular employers must have to continue making money but that are hard to source in the market. A lot of Europeans & Americans feel that they don't have an X and thus want protection against global labour market efficiency. It is in no way a coincidence that the European countries that have the worst debt problems are those that have the greatest structural inefficiencies in their labour markets. They could get out of the hole really quite quickly if they broke them down like the UK did in the 1980s, indeed a problem facing UK politicians is that having made that upgrade there is no obvious course of action to increase growth. My wife's work as lawyer involves counselling US businesses on issues around employing people in Europe and it's quite clear that many Americans flatly refuse to believe that an economy could work with such problems, so conclude that her advice may not be 100% sound.
Labour mobility is a big strength of the US, yes it could be better and health reform is important in that.

But...
The USA cannot help but lose relative position in the world. It's relative growth was in periods when competitors were engaged in highly destructive wars or self inflicted mad economic policies. Economic stupidity is on the wane globally (though with some horrible exceptions) and so the US is facing better competitors.
 
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