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Foreign-owned businesses employ many in NYC region

Stop & Shop markets like this one in

Stop & Shop markets like this one in Levittown are owned by the Dutch company Royal Ahold. A new report says foreign companies employed 490,287 workers in the metropolitan area in 2011. Credit: Barry Sloan

Nearly half a million people in the metropolitan region work for the U.S. operations of foreign-owned businesses, the most of any U.S. region, according to a report due out Friday.

The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, found 490,287 private-sector jobs in the 31-county region that includes Long Island were at foreign-owned companies, including TD Bank, which is headquartered in Toronto, and Stop & Shop supermarkets, a subsidiary of the Dutch grocery conglomerate Royal Ahold.

The jobs represented 6.8 percent of all private-sector employment in the New York area in 2011, the most recent available data. About half had been created since 1991 due to sales growth and foreign companies buying U.S. firms.

Jobs at foreign-owned businesses in the metro region have increased as a percentage of overall private-sector employment by almost 1 percentage point since 1991 and are higher than the national rate of 5 percent in 2011.

The 64-page report, part of a collaboration between Brookings and finance giant JPMorganChase & Co., is believed to be the first of its kind.

Devashree Saha, a co-author of the report and senior policy analyst at Brookings, said foreign direct investment in metro areas "is a fresh injection of capital into our economy, supporting millions of well-paying jobs . . . strengthening our industry clusters and boosting our global competitiveness."

Seventy-eight percent of these jobs in the New York area are in advertising, public relations, banking, finance and other service industries. And although the job numbers are smaller, the region is also a top destination for foreign-owned manufacturers of drugs and machinery.

Nationwide, the industries with the most jobs at foreign-owned establishments are grocery stores, motor vehicle parts and commercial banks.

Despite the metro area's strong performance, New York State ranked third among the states in jobs at the U.S. operations of foreign-owned businesses, with 412,610 or 5.7 percent of the state's total private-sector workforce.

California was No. 1, followed by Texas.

Twenty years earlier, the metro area was ranked No. 1, and New York State was No. 2.

In January, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled a Global NY initiative aimed at encouraging foreign-owned companies to set up shop here. He also wants to boost exports of goods and services produced in New York.

The Brookings report noted that Western Europe, Canada and Japan were the largest investors in the United States, but they and others no longer view this country as the predominant investment destination. While the United States is still No. 1, its share of foreign direct investment dollars has dropped from a high of 26 percent in 1999 to 12 percent in 2012.

China, Mexico, India, Brazil and other "emerging markets are now competing with us to attract high-value foreign capital," said report co-author Nick Marchio, a senior research assistant at Brookings. "We can no longer assume that we will automatically receive the largest portion of globally mobile investment dollars."

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