America’s bleak jobs picture would be even worse if not for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the U.S. economy.

FDI in U.S. factories and property offers firms a source of new technologies, capital, products, and organizational skills, and it fuels economic growth. Most importantly, FDI creates jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 5.6 million Americans worked for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations as of 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Every state in the country benefits from FDI (See chart).

As The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom shows, countries that are open to international trade and investment are more prosperous than those that are closed. One way Congress can encourage more job-creating FDI is to pass pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Removing barriers to international investment benefits the United States—just ask the 5.6 million Americans who work for foreign-owned companies.

Jonathan Beek was a member of the summer Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Click here for more information on interning at Heritage.