Public Says Free Trade Hurts U.S.

Americans are increasingly skeptical of the benefits of free trade, with 53 percent saying such trade agreements have hurt the U.S., up from 46 percent in 2007 and 32 percent in 1999, according to a Wall Street Journal poll. The new skepticism is found even among wealthy professionals, whose jobs are unlikely to be outsourced and whose industries rely on international growth. Among those making $70,000 or more, half say such trade agreements have hurt the country, up from just 24 percent 11 years ago. Politicians are responding to the mood change, and now free-trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia may not get congressional approval. One of the few bipartisan votes in the House of Representatives was a measure that will let the Obama administration put more pressure on China to allow its currency to rise. The change in opinion is probably a reaction to the struggling economy, and experts fear the public mood will lead to a slip backward on efforts to create a more open global economy.