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How many U.S. jobs may be offshored

WASHINGTON—Experts differ on how many U.S. jobs have been sent offshore, or may be. The McKinsey Global Institute, a pro-business research center, estimated earlier this year that 11 percent of U.S. jobs—almost 15 million—hypothetically could be done overseas.

Among the service-sector jobs that McKinsey considers ripe for offshoring are engineering—it says 52 percent of U.S. engineering jobs could be done elsewhere; accounting, 31 percent; and insurance, 19 percent.

But McKinsey thinks only a small fraction of the jobs at risk will be lost. It projects that by 2008, 4.1 million jobs will move from developed nations, primarily the United States and Europe, to developing countries.

Forrester Research expects that within 10 years, at least 3.3 million U.S. jobs will be shipped to lower-cost countries.

In November, 142.6 million Americans had jobs, so the offshoring projections are a relatively small share of the U.S. economy.

Archstone Consulting and Duke University's Center for International Business Education and Research published their second biannual offshoring survey of 100 companies in October.

Asked why they offshored, 97 percent of the companies cited lower costs, 71 percent cited competitive pressures and 70 percent said their reason was greater access to qualified personnel.

The survey found that 21 percent of the jobs that were offshored involved information technology, 32 percent were in product development, 22 percent were administrative tasks and 16 percent were in call centers.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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