Grade 9-12

NAFTA: Did Jobs Get Sucked Out of the United States?

Time: 60 mins,
Updated: April 28 2020,


Students will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the costs and benefits of trade in terms of job loss or creation.

In this economics lesson, students will analyze data to learn if jobs have increased or decreased since NAFTA was implemented.



Open the YouTube video titled NAFTA explained by avocados. And shoes. Distribute copies of NAFTA Video Questions to each student. Review each question with the class prior to viewing the video. Show the video on a projector screen to the entire class. Give students time to answer the questions. Play the video again and give students more time to finish answering any of the questions they missed. Review the answers as a class using the NAFTA Video Questions Answer Key.


Begin by stating, “The effects of NAFTA on United States trade with its North American trading partners begins with examining macroeconomic data. An examination of employment data will give clues with respect to the impact of NAFTA on the United States economy.”

Introduce The United States Census Bureau. State the following:

“The United States Census Bureau is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The U.S. Census Bureau is overseen by the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) within the Department of Commerce. The Bureau collects and reports data about economic trade. The latest data can be found on this website.” Open the U.S Census Bureau Foreign Trade – Top Trading Partners web page. Click on the topic “Year-to-date” option of the most recent month reported. Review the tables as a class.

Group Activity

Distribute copies of the U.S Census Bureau handout to each student. The exercises in this handout require students work on a computer/laptop with Internet access. Break students to work in teams to work together to complete the activities in the handout. All website links are in the handout and are listed below as well:


Have students complete the Exit Ticket. Use the Exit Ticket Answer Key to check for correct answers.


Activity 1

Direct students to examine updates to NAFTA in the USMCA. Have students write one paragraph outlining the changes made in the new agreement.