The Southeast U.S. has among the highest concentrations of jobs due to foreign investment, as shown in the map. The bar chart shows jobs supported in the U.S. by country.

Over the five years ending in 2019, Georgia posted the eighth fastest growth rate among states in jobs attributable to foreign investment, as the total swelled by nearly a third to 287,400.

And foreign firms are filling positions at a faster clip than their locally based counterparts: Georgia’s rate of FDI-fueled jobs grew 32.3 percent between 2014-19, compared to 13.3 percent growth in general private-sector employment, according to the Global Business Alliance, a lobbying group of more than 200 of of the largest foreign employers operating in the United States.

More than a third of these Georgia workers (102,500) are employed in manufacturing, perhaps unsurprisingly given the emergence of a bona fide automotive corridor running through the Southeast, where foreign auto makers and their suppliers found fertile ground for massive investments. International companies supported nearly 70 percent of new manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Thanks to this fact, just about every Southern state outshines the national average when it comes to the proportion of workers owing their livelihoods to foreign-owned subsidiaries. In Georgia, the GBA calculate that 7.2 percent of all jobs come from some 1,244 international employers. The national average hovers around 6 percent.

In the Southeast U.S., only Tennessee saw FDI-fueled jobs grow faster than Georgia with an increase of 33.4 percent in the five-year period tracked, but other Georgia neighbors (competitors?) posted solid growth rates as well: Alabama (29.1 percent) South Carolina (26.3 percent) and North Carolina (20.9 percent).

In Georgia, the largest employers by country are Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada, according to GBA. It was not immediately clear why Germany, which seems perennially to top other such lists, did crack the top three.

According to GBA, which aims to combat protectionist discrimination and ensure a welcoming environment for foreign firms, wooing foreign companies has other benefits that multiply their impact even beyond the immediate jobs.

Foreign firms spend $71 billion on R&D, about 15 percent of all U.S. based R&D spending. They also produce 24 percent of all U.S. exports, pay 25 percent of federal corporate income taxes, and the supply chains they underpin mean that for every job at a foreign firm, three are produced in the broader economy.

And in a note that shows how important it is for states to take care of their existing customers, half of all jobs fueled by foreign direct investment in the U.S. were created by current employers.

Learn more here or in the graphic attached below. Compare states here.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...