WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Monday that foreign direct investment into the United States jumped 49 percent last year as confidence recovered after the financial crisis, dwarfing flows to other countries.
President Barack Obama’s hopes for re-election in 2012 may depend on his success in easing unemployment, currently running at 9.1 percent. His administration said the increase in investment flows had helped boost U.S. hiring.
A report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers calculated foreign firms now hold cumulative investments of $3.1 trillion in the United States. That figure is three times larger than foreign investments in either France or the United Kingdom and six times the scale of foreign holdings in China.
“The United States remains the number one destination for foreign direct investment in the entire world,’ said CEA chairman Austan Goolsbee.
Foreign direct investment in U.S. businesses rose to $228 billion last year versus $153 billion in 2009. But it remained well under the $306 billion recorded in 2008, before a financial crisis that began in the U.S. housing market caused global investment flows to slump as confidence collapsed.
Obama said he would continue to make the United States the most attractive place for foreigners to do business.
“By voting with their balance sheets, businesses from abroad have clearly stated that the United States is one of the best places in the world to invest,” he said in a statement.
The CEA estimated some 5.7 million U.S. workers were employed by firms at least 50 percent owned by foreigners, representing around 5 percent of the total private workforce.
Around 90 percent of investment flows into the United States came from Canada, Europe and Japan, it said.
Reporting by Alister Bull