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% during 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 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,” says 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 during 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,” says Engler. “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.”