WASHINGTON, D.C.-The one bright spot on the economic horizon for the American worker is U.S. export-led growth and free trade which are continuing to hold the economy above water, according to the 11th annual Labor Day report of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The report notes that U.S. exports have increased by 11% over the past year and have added more to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth since 2005 than residential investment has taken away.

“The American worker is going though a difficult time this Labor Day due to rising energy prices that are cutting deep into their paychecks and the most severe housing sector decline in the post World War II era,” said NAM President and CEO John Engler. “Amid these significant problems, the one bright spot on the economic landscape continues to be U.S. exports which have accounted for nearly two-thirds (61%) of America’s economic growth over the past year.

“Export growth has been a shot in the arm for U.S. manufacturers, who account for more than 90% of total goods exports,” he continued. “While domestically-oriented manufacturing industries have been hurt by the housing-led domestic slowdown, export-intense manufacturing industries have seen production surge 17% since the fourth quarter of 2005, and production employment grow by 119,000. With the domestic economy stuck in low gear, global engagement is the key to growth and job creation.

“The trade balance with our free trade partners moved into surplus for manufactured goods during the first half of 2008,” Engler said. “Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) enable U.S. manufacturers to more effectively compete in the global economy and are part of the solution- not part of the problem-for our country’s trade imbalance.

“Due to America’s increasing reliance on foreign sources of energy, petroleum imports alone now account for 69% of the entire U.S. trade deficit. Reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy will require a comprehensive national energy policy that promotes efficiency while increasing and diversifying our domestic energy supplies. Expanding supply and streamlining demand will together put downward pressure on energy prices that are eating into workers’ paychecks and constraining consumer spending,” Engler continued.

“The best way for the presidential candidates and our policymakers in Washington to help the American worker this Labor Day is to promote both engagement in the global economy and a robust, forward-looking national energy strategy,” Engler concluded.

The NAM Labor Day report is available atwww.nam.org/LaborDayReport