We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How does Outsourcing Affect the U.S. Economy?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
America Explained is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At America Explained, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

How outsourcing affects the US economy is a matter of great debate. For those to the political right, this practice will have an overall positive effect on the US economy, since it saves money for companies, opens up opportunities for greater entrepreneurship in the US, and leads to more Americans holding higher level jobs. Critics suggest hiring foreign workers has an immediate effect on the US economy by stripping many Americans of jobs they would have performed, particularly by semi-skilled or skilled laborers. The way that companies are taxed based on outsourcing may decrease a corporation’s tax debt and thus decrease federal spending.

Both sides on this issue and all those who try to navigate a middle road between the two sides, have some valid points. It is true that outsourcing has led to job loss in the US, and has had a detrimental effect on those people who may be only minimally qualified to work. It’s also the case that there are plenty of skilled labor jobs being outsourced to foreign countries. The loss is not only to people with minimal job skills.

A problem for those Americans who are impoverished, and might take minimal skill jobs is that it is now much harder to get jobs of this type. When President Clinton enacted the Welfare to Work plan in the 1990s, he was attempting to encourage people to get back to work so as to reduce government spending in welfare. Unfortunately, with fewer jobs available for unskilled workers, people may find themselves in exceptional poverty. Poverty does not benefit the US economy since it reduces consumer spending and tax revenues.

Even in the middle classes, there are plenty of jobs that are now outsourced. This has been particularly the case in the computer and technology industry. Again, inability to find work means inability to purchase homes, spend money, and profit companies. When people don’t buy, corporations that produce things don’t make money, which can thus “trickle down” to fewer jobs available and a greater desire to outsource to make things more cheaply so they will be more attractive to consumers.

Those supporting outsourcing say that lowering expenses of corporations will create jobs. There are plenty of government agencies that outsource some of their work, saving them millions of dollars, a direct effect on the US economy and on federal spending. A common theory contends that being able to pay people lower wages for work means that companies will be able to produce things with less expense and transfer this saving to consumers. Lower prices may mean more consumer spending, and companies will be able to hire more workers in the US because they’re paying less for workers outside of it.

Further, many argue that giving jobs to workers in less developed countries improves those countries economically and increases trade for US products. It also increases a country’s ability to pay back debts to the US, and may promote better political relationships. Companies economically benefit by selling their products in other countries. This means they can hire more people in the US, lower their prices on products for US consumers.

There is another “side” to the issue of outsourcing that needs to be addressed. Not all people in other countries economically benefit from outsourced jobs, and some companies aren’t dedicated to providing humane working conditions. Outsourced work may be performed by children, or in inhumane working conditions. Abuses of foreign employees might not benefit US trade or political relationships.

Outsourcing remains a difficult issue, but it does remain. Virtually no one, on any side of the argument concedes that outsourcing can be eliminated completely. There are those who feel that corporations are evading taxes and depriving the government of needed money and suggest corporations should be taxed for outsourcing, and rewarded for keeping jobs within the US. Others feel the temporary loss of jobs will be followed by greater economic growth in the US and will ultimately be worth the cost.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a America Explained contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon1006291 — On Feb 25, 2022

Wow, where do I begin?

First and foremost, as someone who just found this site, I would like to thank the comments for providing some insight into what's been happening to real American citizens for decades now.

The spiral to all of this started in 1913 when the Federal Reserve and IRS were established. From there, we had Nixon take us off the gold standard, then NAFTA and now we are at the race to the bottom, where all the things are matured with no going back in sight.

Having worked in eCommerce for the past four years, let me tell you that this problem is only getting worse. These startups and technology companies are outsourcing everything to Southeast Asian countries. If it can be done on a computer, and almost everything these days can, it will get outsourced. I've seen graphic designers, underwriters, marketers, engineers, media buyers, etc., get outsourced. In today's market, no one stands a chance to win unless you're willing to get paid below a living wage. Even then, companies would rather yell "worker shortage!" than hire an American, government bails them out, you and I get taxed for it.

I don't have a solution that hasn't already been stated here.

We need someone in charge who is ready to put the American citizen above all monetary compensation.

As long as this country remains divided, it's only going to get worse.

By anon949861 — On May 07, 2014

Treason is treason! Outsourcing is treason, not economics. We shall not regress to subservient behavior just because multinational CEOs want a bigger paycheck. Selling out the American people is treason. Just because a few elitists benefit while the majority suffers does not give corporations cart blanche to destroy the American economy for profits sake.

The entire push after World War II was to equalize the economies of the world so that all would share in the prosperity of peace. Noble ideas, but for the world economy to equalize means that those who have more must give and those that don't must take. It lowers the standard for the great societies and raises it for the lesser ones. In other words, we have been sold into economic slavery for the sake of an elite few.

It is time to stop this insanity. Hold corporations responsible for the rising divide between the workers that produce and the elite that suck the life out of everyone else.

By anon355681 — On Nov 18, 2013

I see a lot of moaning and complaining but what can "regular people" even do in America?

By harpat — On Sep 17, 2013

Offshoring and outsourcing are basically same as importing. A service is imported rather than some goods. The effect of importing or outsourcing is that some jobs in the US may be eliminated. If people can find other productive jobs of equal or better pay, no visible harm is done. If people have to be idled, there can be a lot of harm.

The US imports a lot because the unsustainable escalation of wages and spending makes it attractive to import. This is the main reason why anything that can be imported is imported. The high US wages were made possible by abundance of energy and automation which leveraged labor in manufacturing. compared to manufacturing, the service industry was and is horribly non competitive.

Ironically, we lost the most competitive part of the economy and are stuck with high priced services like legal, medical etc. Our medical services cost about 20 to 50 times more than in some underdeveloped countries, whereas manufacturing was relatively competitive except for labor intensive things like clothes and shoes.

By anon322283 — On Feb 26, 2013

There will be a war between the downsized American millions and the few CEO's who used, abused, then discarded them. Guess who's going to win? If I was an American corporation today I would get out of this country because the crap is coming your way faster than you know.

By anon322282 — On Feb 26, 2013

Corporate America began destroying the American quality of life about 35 years ago when downsizing and ordering employees to clean out their desks by "Friday" was all the rage.

The only way we will put a stop to this insanity is to start jailing all CEO's who have caused the destruction of the American economy. They have committed treason against the United States. They've bankrupted the American economy, destroyed millions of American jobs and dreams of millions of others. This is treason pure and simple. I would give them their fair trial and line them up against the wall. Firing squads are too good for these bums.

By anon321582 — On Feb 23, 2013

If you want $20 to $30 an hour, forget it. Your American jobs are not coming back.

By anon312693 — On Jan 08, 2013

Eventually CEO jobs will be outsourced. Then our House, Senate etc will be outsourced. And finally our Presidency also will be outsourced.

By anon261921 — On Apr 18, 2012

After 20 years of listening to the economists telling us that the economy will be just as strong after blue collar (and now white collar jobs) go offshore, I'm now doubting the rigour of the economists' analysis.

There is nothing beneficial about offshoring, unless you are a CEO or private equity firm.

If you destroy a country's middle class and now its professional classes, you are left with nothing.

It's a terminal recession with no solid GDP to get us out.

As for those ridiculous articles about us all happily re-skilling: how many sushi-bars and websites can a country start up after losing their jobs?

To put it simply: We have handed over the family jewels to Asian manufacturers and a few people got very rich in the process.

By anon222196 — On Oct 14, 2011

Outsourcing has nothing to do with business tax. Outsourcing occurs because people in foreign countries are willing to work for smaller wages.

You could reduce our business tax rate to 5 percent, and the jobs still wouldn't return. The only way to get jobs back is to compete with foreign wages, which unfortunately is not possible to live on in America. $3 an hour might fly in China, but it certainly will not fly in the states.

Outsourcing is the dirty side of capitalism.

By anon212463 — On Sep 07, 2011

I am very upset with our government. How can they allow credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, to outsource all of the information on our credit reports to another country? That alone should be a threat to our country's security. I don't want someone in another country having access to my personal and financial information.

Many, many people in the US do not know that their credit information is being outsourced. Is there any government agency that cares about this?

By anon208656 — On Aug 23, 2011

America has been outsourced, lock, stock and barrel. The economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China referred to as the BRIC are all booming, while America's economy has been collapsing. The next bubble to burst in this country needs to be the heads of all the politicians, lawyers and CEOs that put America in this place during the past 20 or so years setting up deals to out source America.

It's time we take back what has been taken.

It's time we send the rich out the door.

It's time the politicians, lawyers, big corporate CEOs and bankers be held accountable.

It's time for them to all be very nervous right now.

Bail out money! Where did it all really go, America?

It's time we clean house?

Or maybe we should all learn Chinese!

Stop being stupid, America. Start thinking again.

Without any real jobs, who can afford to send their children to college? Where is all the technology now? The way it is going, it won't be long before a bankrupt USA will be a real cheap bargain.

By anon206039 — On Aug 15, 2011

I watched a 60 Minutes segment tonight about companies moving out of the US (thus, abandoning Americans and their jobs) because business tax was 30 percent. Switzerland was 12 percent, I believe. Also mentioned was China, etc. CISCO was the company mentioned many times. I'd like to have a list of all those companies who, out of greed, chose to flee instead of stand in from of Congress.

Don't worry about social security, because by the time many of us reach that age it won't exist. The recent dumping of stocks, as well as other times the market crashed, has made our retirement plans feeble.

My son has been out of work for 3.5 years. His last job ended within weeks of him getting married. We tried to get them to hold off until he found a job, but we now know he wouldn't have gotten married. Her family trash talked him, saying he was a leech. She left him in January, and he is back home. He has been filling out applications, sometimes 30+ times a day. He has had two interviews, 1 rejection letter. He is currently a sub teacher getting $65 a day. And some months it is two days a month he works. No benefits. And yes, he has been to college.

We have tried buying American. But now so many products aren't produced at all in America. Our president gets on TV saying he is going get Americans back to work. Where? There aren't jobs. He is either stupid or oblivious to that tax causing companies to leave. Our economy is not going to recover until taxes are reduced for companies, and outsourcing is made illegal. Sure, outsource. But don't allow their products into our country.

I picture our citizens as becoming drones, having to all work the same menial work, living in small bare apartments. So many went to the polls not thinking what would happen. Ignorance is the problem many had, and others chose not to think.

Remember the American Revolution? It wasn't just the fact King George III claimed this land, but he slapped taxes on everything. Not everyone fought in the revolution. In fact, most did not. But if it weren't for the militias organized in the colonies, who knows how we would be living. They fought for freedom from what is very much going on now. They had homes burned, and knew they had a good chance of losing their lives. We need a revolution now, not charging with guns, but our voices. The Tea Party had a good idea, but without a leader, and without good organization, I doubt it will every do any good.

We need to all be educated on the problem with our economy, and have an organized plan on facing congress. One problem is that those in Congress don't work, and probably haven't in decades. They are out of touch.

Meanwhile, my son never hears from his "wife." Neither will file divorce papers. He had an interview 200 miles from here, and we are hoping and praying he will get the job. With a school, low pain position. But we have all heard of the ISDs laying off teachers. God bless America. We need something to happen, and now!

By anon190607 — On Jun 27, 2011

WagonerRick again. The gentleman from Germany sure makes it sound like most countries have pretty similar problems and aspirations. It tends to surprise me, but I know why it doesn't. Today's world is much smaller than it used to be, what with satellites, the Internet, and cell phones. I can remember paying as much as $15 a minute or was that $15 for three minutes? It doesn't matter, it was expensive, you were lucky if you were even able to communicate with whoever was on the other end, and most of the day, the conditions would not be conducive to making a radio transmission connection to that destination.

When I served in the Navy in my teens and twenties, I visited a lot of countries, but not Europe. I was in Rota Spain, Gibraltar, Athens, Morocco, passed through both the Suez and Panama canals, stopping in Panama City and Aden, Hawaii, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Palma in Majorca, but I only stayed in Morocco for any period of time.

I was upset to learn how so many in those places didn't particularly like the U.S., and I took what they told us, "you are an ambassador for the United States and what you do will reflect good or bad on the U.S.” I also saw how others from my country felt no obligation to follow that code. Today I complain that all too many have forgotten or never knew of the Golden Rule, but maybe there have always been some like that. I think to be successful in politics and business, one needs to be ruthless and cunning. Not everyone will ever be that. Those people have to count on the ruthless and cunning people for a livelihood.

I think those in business and government tend to be ruthless and only care about their individual selves. I hope I am never like that, so when they say that lack of jobs causes an increase in entrepreneurship., I say, “Bull!” Yes, people are forced to try and go into business for themselves as I did with a lawn mowing service, but I never had a chance of success and most others don't either. If you have worked for someone else all your life, I don't think that makes you a good candidate for success in running a business. You would think mowing lawns doesn't require any knowledge -- just do it. Wrong. I know what I did wrong, but I have no chance of trying it again. Besides, one of the things I did wrong was ignoring the fact that I have never been able to sell anything, since I first started getting pimples as a teenager. The lawn mowing was not the first business I had tried, but all of the others were because I believed what a pitchman sold to me. I don't remember being able to drum up much lawn-mowing business and I couldn't get any help, except twice. The first boy was good, but he came to work as he pleased, then I discovered that he was taking off from my jobs to borrow his dad's lawnmower and steal my customers away from me. The only other time was when I hired two guys who acted dumber than a block of wood, and insisted that I offer them a certain hourly salary before they would work for me. They didn't have transportation, so I drove close to an hour each way to pick them up and drop them off. Once they were on the job, I kept noticing that they disappeared and when I looked for them, I would always find them on the other side of the house, deep in conversation and sitting on their tails. I got as much done that day as I could have gotten done all by myself and went in the hole for over $100, by the end of it. I fired them that first day, and didn't have the money to pay them for weeks, but I finally did. In the mean time they were threatening to turn me in to the labor board and all sorts of stuff, despite me telling them that they would get paid and why it was taking so long.

Anon190024 is one that I have complete empathy with. I also read the article he talks about, and I know one illegal alien with a very similar story, though his parents brought him from Mexico when he was but a baby. He speaks only a little Spanish and if he were deported, he would be sent into a hostile environment that he knows little about. As it is, he pays taxes, works hard as a supervisor, though he usually hires in lower and works his way up. He will never draw Social Security because he can't.

I also know people who had dental work done or visited Mexican doctors to get cheaper prescriptions filled and well, cheaper all around.

I worked one month over the maximum amount I could make, either last year or the year before (I forget), but I have just finished paying that back to Social Security. The $15,000 hospital bill should be paid by the fall, so things are looking up. I also now work a four-day week, but I'm only scheduled for 38 hours. What I actually get is at least 38 hours, but some weeks I can make $100 more (net) than the 38 hours will get me. All that makes my standard of living appear to look brighter in the future, but the first two years I drew my SS, we got cost-of-living increases and I wondered what they meant by fixed income that I had always heard seniors complain about. Well, there has been no increase in something like three years, I believe, and I was forced to pay a ridiculous hospital bill, while at the same time paying back close to $1,000 for making more than Social Security allowed that year. What the heck is up with putting a limit on what you can make? I've been jealous of service people who retire around 40 and they never seemed to be penalized for making too much. Matter of fact, I once worked with a guy who had retired and paid cash for a Cadillac. That is something that I've never gotten anywhere close to.

The bottom line is that I have become comfortable again, and have learned not to want so much -- no flat-panel HD TV for me, no scuba diving equipment or trips, no motorcycle, much less the Honda Goldwing I used to own, and no more fun being a private pilot. It works and I don't want to get it back only to go through all this again. Like I said, I don't think it is fair, but I'm comfortable.

For the one who suggested a job with the government, I did look into it, but the process can take a very long time and I'm just not convinced that anyone would ever offer me a job in IS again. I just hope I get a raise in SS before things get too tight again.

By anon190024 — On Jun 25, 2011

What strikes me most forcibly is that the same party in favor of outsourcing jobs because of the benefits to big business, also is the most vocal about illegal immigrants stealing jobs from hard-working American citizens.

I don't see that these posts are dated, but I'm writing this just a few days after a Filipino-American journalist, an undocumented immigrant, has just written a long piece about his experience as an illegal. As I'm writing this, it doesn't seem likely that he'll be deported, and the comments I've read regarding the story indicate a great deal of sympathy for his plight (except for a few which look at his Spanish name, assume he's Mexican, and say "Ship him south!")

On the other hand, I have a friend who crosses the border (legally, with a passport) into Mexico whenever he needs to see a doctor, because he doesn't have health insurance, and can't afford it here in the US.

I've been fortunate to find a career in an industry that doesn't lend itself to outsourcing, but as far as mainframe work goes, I believe a lot of large government agencies still rely heavily on mainframe operations, just as a side note, if anyone is still reading who needs work in that area. Government agencies also have fairly strict guidelines about what they are and are not allowed to consider on a job application, and typically will not weight recent work more heavily than older experience.

By anon156478 — On Feb 27, 2011

Something you in the US might want to think about. A story from Germany.

I have worked for some of the global players in the IT middle management the past 15 years. What I saw and experienced made me shiver for the future of my kids.

Globalisation and Global Markets were such big buzzwords here in Germany, that most of us couldn't hold back their enthusiasm and were looking forward to it.

The European Union promised welfare for all of us. If we just would have known the complete truth, welfare and luxury for few, poverty and unemployment for the majority.

I don't know exactly when it started, but suddenly it was there. For example, nearly all manufacturing companies started to close factories and built them abroad. Outsourcing and offshoring were new holy solutions to solve all our problems. But, the result were huge redundancy waves constantly hitting our society due to company restructurings. At the beginning, we were told, that those will participate in re-trainings for new deployments, today our politicians don't even bother anymore to comment.

Some found i need new jobs, however all the others stayed unemployed.

So many German companies invest money abroad into jobs and facilities in countries with no union, barely any emission laws, without environment protection and safety at work plans. The quality of the goods is just bad and only carries a strong brand name.

Major knowledge, technology and patent transfer have been going on for the last years. German patents, inventions that got subsidized by development programs funded by the tax payers are sold for big short term profits to the highest bidder in Asia. The workforce is mostly left with a small compensation and a meaningless farewell.

Our middle society is rapidly shrinking, and we have high unemployment rates in young and middle to higher age citizens. The government is masking those numbers with Hartz IV and/or by inventing new KPIs and how to calculate unemployment rates.

Other European countries are suffering from the same problem. They have pumped billions into social benefits and development programs the last years to find themselves bankrupt at the end of the day like Greece, Ireland and soon be followed by Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Germany and Europe suddenly face a global labor market, where they cannot compete with cost. We have worked hard the last centuries to gain our standard of living, which has a certain price and what we have to earn to keep it. Our competitors can sell their labor cheaper. The only thing we can do to survive on the long run is with better education, flexibility and quality. If it is not too late.

A good friend of mine, who studied with me and is currently unemployed lately said to me in the context of buying a new flat screen. "You know global markets made many products very very cheap. But, if you have no work and money you cannot even afford the cheapest things." He is so right. God bless us all.

By anon151208 — On Feb 09, 2011

Yes, outsourcing plays a huge part in the loss of jobs in the United States. If we work together we can easily turn this country around.

By anon134604 — On Dec 15, 2010

I want to know how outsourcing affects the next 10 years of US college students out looking for work and a way to pay off their student loans.

Outsourcing is just as vile as the what the banks and brokerage houses have done. Where does the money go? to corporate executives and the associated stock holders. Not back to USA jobs. The rape of the middle class.

By anon134329 — On Dec 14, 2010

Breaking up the incumbency monopolies might be considered a first step for a free people to prevent the derivative problem of government cartels in our own nation creating the opportunity to create situations where no opportunity exists - like control resources - by sending work overseas. If no jobs ever come back to the U.S., what good is a stimulus bill?

Stimulus bills help in the short run while waiting for the economy to catch up. There is no catch up if the economy is organized to exclude American jobs. No wonder we can't move forward and make progress. Is everyone dumb, blind, and ignorant in Washington?

By anon134206 — On Dec 14, 2010

WagonerRick here again. Talk about following this back too far! I suppose we could find the scapegoat we want just by continuing to follow the trail back until we hear one that we want to be at fault. I don't have to go that far back.

I put the blame squarely on Bush and those who agree with him. He might not have been totally to blame, but he couldn't hide how giddy he was to be able to make that announcement.

I caught his announcement on TV when he announced with a grin from ear to ear that now that U.S. companies are finally able to hire cheap labor overseas, they could now better compete on the world market. He actually used the term “cheap overseas labor” and I knew instantly that this was something that could end up impacting me, personally. I was right.

I’m sure Bush wouldn’t have been sporting one of the most exuberant grins I ever saw him use, unless he fully agreed that putting us citizens out of work was of no importance to him. All that mattered was that the companies could now make things that would be cheap enough to sell on the world market. It didn’t matter that they would need foreign customers to more than make up for the loss of customers in this country. After all, we can’t be their customer if we don’t have incomes, and/or this has destroyed our good credit ratings. Mine used to be something that I was very proud of, but at 66 I have to wait another five years to begin to repair the damage. Oh, I have managed to pay for a number of services and merchandise with credit, but I don’t think these people report to the credit bureau, or if they do, they may not feel that it is worth their time to do so.

I got a copy of my credit report a couple of years ago and saw one that said I had paid it off, but I was slow with the payments. I didn’t remember ever being slow so I challenged the entry. There was no way to just challenge the paying slow part, or even to comment on what I didn’t like about the entry.

Lo and behold, they removed the entire entry. I would rather have kept the paid entry, even if they also had to keep the slow paying statement. I haven’t bothered trying to make any more changes, as this one went from bad to worse. There are many disagreements between the three reporting agencies, which also makes it seem to be an impossible result to achieve getting all three to agree.

This changes the subject somewhat, but you have a lot of background that led me to it. I was made to overpay my rent in Wagoner by a month, and they wouldn’t return the money. Then my girlfriend’s daughter threw me out of the house, the day before my birthday that year. She and my girlfriend kept the money that I had paid for the whole month and I got nothing for the birthday. This was also a Sunday evening right after I became a security guard and I was to go to work the next day.

Because I had nothing with me to wear to work, little money and couldn’t think of anywhere to go except live on the street, I attempted suicide. I overdosed on sleeping pills, after getting something to eat at Whataburger, and just stayed in my truck to await my demise.

The reason I admit to all this is that I didn’t realize how I would die and I would not ever have tried it if I had known. I thought you just went to sleep and you would get deeper and deeper into sleep, until your heart just stopped in your sleep. I was wrong and I now know what must have been happening when it is reported that a suicide victim appeared to be reaching for the phone, but was never able to make the call.

The process was a whole lot faster than I realized it would be and I think it snuck up on me without my being aware. My speech began to began to make me sound drunk, but it was like I had gotten a shot of Novocaine in my lips and that made it difficult to make myself understood. I was on the phone with my son and he was lying to beat the band, but he made me think everything would be okay and we could overcome the effects of the pills, without getting a hospital involved.

The next thing I knew, he asked me to get out of the truck and get some air -- walk around some. As soon as i opened the door, I could see that police were approaching from all directions to surround me. They then did that cops show thing, where they say “Driver, please exit your vehicle and step away.” I tried to comply, but that’s when I discovered that my legs were made of jello and I couldn’t even stand without help. They swooped in and did hold me up, because I’m sure they could see that I wasn’t faking it.

That led me to the realization that I’ll bet a lot of people who attempt going out this way are not aware that it paralyzes you. I remember a sad statement about Marilyn Monroe’s suicide that said it looked like she was reaching for the phone for help, but didn’t manage to make that call. I now think I know why. These sleeping pills seemed to be paralyzing me, but I was also so wired that I didn’t sleep all night. I think the paralysis progresses until you lose motor function, but maybe your heart becomes paralyzed and stops functioning, or even your lungs might do the same thing. It wouldn’t be a good way to go, if you wanted to abort, but were paralyzed and couldn’t. You would just get to watch yourself die.

Also, I had no insurance, other than through the VA, but Ft. Worth doesn’t have a VA hospital and the ambulance driver wouldn’t cross the county line to take me to the one in Dallas. I’m still paying on a $15,000 bill for three days in the hospital in Ft. Worth, where nothing I am aware of, except for IV’s and blood tests were done to me -- nothing more invasive than that. I remember that hospital bills were running $100.00 a day in the seventies, and I dreaded having to pay the bill if I found myself without insurance.

Anyway, I saw pretty quickly how stupid my attempt had been and vowed I would never attempt it again.

It’s a good thing I meant what I said, because my son decided to throw me out of his apartment and steal almost all of my expensive electronics and all of my cleaning supplies. He was at least nice enough to hand me the pawn tickets on my stereo and TV, which cost me roughly $300 to buy back.

I was paying all his bills, as he was unemployed, but slept on the couch and never had a key to the place. I had just paid all his bills through to the end of the month, when he kicked me out.

It too happened on a Sunday evening, with my needing to work the next day, but I sprung for a week’s stay at a motel with weekly rates. By the time the rent was due again, I was moving into my own apartment. I had to take the first place that would take me without penalizing me for my credit history. It wasn’t my first choice, but I have been quite happy here, and I moved in over two years ago now.

Incidentally, I understood that NAFTA allowed foreign nationals to have jobs in the U.S. and U.S. citizens were to have an equal number of jobs available to them in other countries. I have seen no evidence of it, except for sister companies in Mexico. Once the U.S. employees got those Mexican plants operating, decently, I think they pulled our countrymen back here.

I remember a time when foreign companies had to pay tariffs (I think that’s the name) on their products to keep them from selling merchandise cheaper than we could sell our goods. I also seem to remember that a foreign national was not allowed to work in this country, unless it could be said that no qualified U.S. worker could be located.

I haven’t seen overseas jobs advertised since the late 70’s or early 80’s. What happened? It doesn’t seem fair that you see foreign nationals in every kind of job today. Where do we have the same opportunity beyond our borders?

By anon134058 — On Dec 13, 2010

Sorry guys but you should make some kind of effort to blame the right person. Thomas Jefferson said, "If you expect to be ignorant and free, you expect what never was and never will be!" The American voter has performed below the "F" level for years. It was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA in 1993!

By anon100351 — On Jul 29, 2010

This is all an example of America's greed affecting the populace. The people at the top could care less about people who need them for their very survival. We may all at some point have to reject the culture that capitalism created by going back to basics and only purchasing what we absolutely have to have.

By anon54245 — On Nov 28, 2009

WagonerRick here again. As a post script to my last post (a moderator has to look it over before they will post it), I would love to go back to being a programmer trainee, if they would just let me. I just found out that I probably would lose my Social Security, if I made as much as I used to.

There was something like a $17K ceiling for me this year, and while I had once been told that I could make anything this next year, I just looked it up a week or two ago and it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $37K. I'd feel downright rich if I could make that now.

By anon54244 — On Nov 28, 2009

I had forgotten all about this post, so I'm not sure how to log back on as WagonerRick, but that is me.

I was unable to get any real nibble on a job in Oklahoma, except for the aforementioned McDonald's hamburger job.

I moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, to be near friends and really messed up my finances for months, becoming technically homeless on two separate occasions, but still managed to keep a roof over my head, while living out of a suitcase for close to six months.

I did somehow manage to get caught up on bills and move into my own apartment. What saved me was landing a job as a ecurity guard. I was even able to put some of my PC knowledge to work, but had to cut that part way back, because it seems most security guards know nothing or very little about computers.

I worked at the same post for over a year, when the first shift guard, who had seniority over me, bumped me out of there. I was told that I don't hear well enough to work there any more. This was just this Monday. I only worked 27 hours this week, filling in for those who wanted Thanksgiving off.

I had gotten a raise from $7.50 an hour to $8.13 an hour and just reached the maximum that I can make while drawing Social Security, so I will be working for roughly $4 an hour for the next month.

Unless I land somewhere like before, I'll be hurting again at the beginning of the year.

The last post suggested that I apply at insurance companies. Anywhere they are still hiring mainframe programmers and or analysts, should be a good place to apply, but I was always amazed at how companies viewed my skills.

It shouldn't make any difference, but they always asked me what kinds of systems I had worked on and they don't hire you without experience with something similar to their systems. Of course they don't mind giving you experience in new stuff once you are hired, but you won't get hired without the experience they want.

Another sad fact about the computer world is that they pay less attention to what you have done all of your adult life, than they do to the most recent quarter.

In other words, they are only interested in what you have done in the three months prior to interviewing. So many things now would knock me out of the running: no programming experience since 2002, my hearing has gotten bad even with hearing aids in certain settings.

I don't know why, but sometimes I have no trouble hearing and understanding, while other times I find myself asking certain people to repeat themselves over and over until I finally make out what they are saying. I know it drives them nuts, because it drives me nuts.

My company appears now only interested in jobs where I work all alone, and I sure don't like that, but I have to do what it takes to live.

By anon54047 — On Nov 26, 2009

Get a job in a field where there is demand. health care, nursing, or a related field.

With your vast experience in mainframe, did you try applying for dinosaur insurance companies who still use mainframe like State Farm insurance in Illinois, Farmers Insurance and the like?

Never give up. Something might line up for you when you least expect it. Bush has nothing to do with the economy. The Federal Reserve on the other hand... Can you imagine giving out loans to people without jobs, and letting the stock market/housing market soar? what were they thinking?

Acorn pressured banks/politicians to give out free loans to those that didn't work, for ridiculous ballooning interest rates. What were they thinking?

By anon49789 — On Oct 22, 2009

Actually you can blame Bush all you want, but the seeds of our current economic nightmare were sewn in the late 60's by LBJ, then enhanced by Nixon. Every president since has had a chance to change things, but they don't care. They are part of a power elite whose kids get to grow up in luxury with tutors. The kids get into the finest schools, move into a first career, then run for office at some point. Special interests control Congress. Major corporations have swallowed up everything, and a true free market doesn't exist.

Rick, your tale is a sad one. Our economy is much, much worse than they tell us. We are in trouble.

By anon47121 — On Oct 01, 2009

I'm sorry that happened to you Rick. I agree with you that Bush helped to destroy the American dream and many many lives. Unfortunately, I find that many people still believe the lies about free and open markets (which don't exist anywhere).

By anon36363 — On Jul 12, 2009

Feel for you man

By WagonerRick — On Mar 15, 2008

Much of what I read here matches my own experience, but I don't think the discussion goes far enough. I didn't see anything here about what happens to you when your job is shipped overseas. What are the options available to you, when you can no longer find work in the field you are educated in? I'm sure that many of you think that you just find a related field and go to work there, but it didn't happen for me. Many of you think that you can get retrained and just change careers, but it didn't happen for me. Many of you think that anyone should be able to avoid Foreclosure by simply selling your house, but guess what; many can't do that unless they are able to pay thousands of dollars to have someone take it off their hands and profit from their loss.

When this started, I was working for a wholesale distributor of books in LaVergne, TN. They had been spending on new construction like crazy and developing new systems at a dizzying pace. All at once, the bottom of the stock market fell out. Bush was just getting started.

The company first announced huge cuts in benefits and wages. Soon after, they announced the beginnings of huge lay-offs and actually thought that we would understand them sacrificing our lives to make them richer. Now they should have known better, because they do market to people of all economic tiers.

Now this company wasn't actually trying to outsource our jobs overseas. No, this company was trying to cut jobs altogether. Their plan was to get rid of their Mainframe computers, lay off their Information Systems people and then buy software packages, letting the software vendors maintain the systems. I'm not sure they ever completed that plan but I had connections there for years after I left and never knew them to complete that plan.

I was 58 when I left and I didn't see anyone who was laid off with me getting jobs, so I tried to start my own business. The little job searching I did back then resulted in my being told that they only hire from overseas, now. I was told that no training was available to me, because they didn't have any money. It failed and I was never able to make any money at it, while I tried to keep my head above water from the $20K fun-job salary my wife was bringing in. I also took some Temp jobs during that time. Maybe a couple of years went by before we bottomed out. I remember being surprised that despite my education, no one was willing to allow me to use it in another field.

I went through my 401K's just to make my bills, and this was at a time when the 401K's were being devastated by the economy. I think I got less than half of what I should have been able to get back out and I even got penalized on the first payment, because I had yet to reach 58 1/2.

At that time, the wife decided to bail on me and insisted I file Bankruptcy. That was so that she could walk away from the marriage without having to be burdened by my problems.

I had tried to break into the IT world -- the client-server world since maybe 1996, but employers were reluctant to give main-framers a chance, thinking incorrectly that the concept was too different for them. I took a lot of courses and seminars, hoping to make that transition without success.

After I was forced to sell off most of my possessions and move out of my four-bedroom home, which I had bought in 1997 and which had not appreciated, I moved to Oklahoma. I moved here out of necessity, because I found a nice garage apartment for $350 a month (I actually could have found much cheaper apartments here, I found out later) and that was maybe half or less than I could find in the Metro.

When this all first started, I got so depressed that I started seeing a Shrink for the first time. The stress at work had become intolerable and of course losing my career right after didn't help any.

When I got to Oklahoma, I only had two nibbles for jobs. The first was as a truck driver, and I took and passed the CDL 'A' test, and had a trucking company lined up to pay to teach me to drive and put me to work, but the state of Oklahoma said, Whoa! We can't let you drive a commercial truck because you take anti-depressants and that makes you prone to road-rage. I actually found myself being evaluated by a Psychiatrist every six months just to keep my regular driver's license until they eventually decided that I was okay and didn't need to do that any more.

I have since been weened off the medicine and vow to never talk to another Shrink, as they are down-right depressing people.

That left me but with one choice -- I went to work for McDonalds Hamburgers when I was denied the CDL for $5.15 an hour. I had once made $45 an hour as an independent contractor and as much as $40 an hour with benefits working for others. I couldn't even find work as an office clerk.

Now there are only two things I want out of life - Love and Respect, but guess what? You don't get either as a 62 year old man cleaning bathrooms in a fast-food restaurant.

When I reached 62, I started drawing Social Security. Mickey D's would have supplemented my SS nicely, if not for the respect requirement and I just don't need any more reasons to be depressed. I quit that job and doubled my income at the same time.

After two years of this, I find that I can't maintain my truck or buy clothes or actually do much more than eat (not as much as I want), pay bills (barely), and my only outlets are church and a couple of community bands that I play in.

I started looking for work again but it is even worse than before, without a single nibble.

Can you picture Bush who is my age having to live this life?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a America Explained contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.