New Statistics Available on Activities of U.S. Multinational Enterprises


The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis today released preliminary statistics on the worldwide activities of U.S. multinational enterprises and their foreign affiliates in 2015. These statistics offer details on the finances and operations of U.S. multinational enterprises, including their employment and compensation, sales, value added, capital expenditures, trade in goods, and expenditures for research and development.

Here are some highlights from the 2015 statistics:

  • The current-dollar value added of U.S. multinational enterprises, a measure of their direct contribution to the gross domestic product of the United States and foreign host countries, decreased 1.1 percent in 2015, after it grew at an average annual rate of 7.5 percent between 2009 and 2014.
  • The activities of U.S. multinational enterprises in 2015 continued to be concentrated in the United States; U.S. parents accounted for nearly two-thirds of worldwide multinational enterprises employment, three-quarters of worldwide value added and capital expenditures, and over four-fifths of worldwide R&D expenditures. Foreign affiliates accounted for one-third of these measures at most.
  • Employment by U.S. multinational enterprises increased 1.9 percent to 42.4 million employees worldwide in 2015, with approximately 90% of this employment growth occurring domestically. The 1.9 percent growth in employment, however, was smaller than the average annual growth of 4.3 percent between 2009 and 2014.
  • R&D expenditures by U.S. multinational enterprises increased 2.5 percent to $339.1 billion in 2015. The increase was driven by a 3.2 percent increase by U.S. parents. In contrast, R&D expenditures by foreign affiliates decreased 0.9 percent in 2015.

BEA has also updated statistics for 2014 that supersede the preliminary statistics from the 2014 Benchmark Survey of U.S. Direct Investment Abroad, which were published in November 2016. The publication of revised 2014 statistics features several new tables that present selected activities by currency as reported in foreign affiliate accounting records, employment of affiliates by city for selected countries, and new statistics on royalties and license fees.

A guide to the methodology of this benchmark survey, which offers explanation and analysis of the updated statistics, is available here.

An article analyzing the preliminary 2015 statistics will be included in the December issue of the Survey of Current Business.

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