Giant sucking sound

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The "giant sucking sound" was United States presidential candidate Ross Perot's phrase for what he believed would be the negative effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he opposed.

First usage and context[edit]

The phrase, which Perot coined during the 1992 US presidential campaign, referred to the sound of US jobs heading south for Mexico should the NAFTA, the proposed so-called free-trade agreement, go into effect.

In the second 1992 Presidential Debate, Ross Perot argued:

We have got to stop sending jobs overseas. It's pretty simple: If you're paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor,...have no health care—that's the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don't care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south.
    ...when [Mexico's] jobs come up from a dollar an hour to six dollars an hour, and ours go down to six dollars an hour, and then it's leveled again. But in the meantime, you've wrecked the country with these kinds of deals.[1]

Perot ultimately lost the election, and the winner, Bill Clinton, supported NAFTA, which went into effect on January 1, 1994.


The phrase has since come into general use to describe any situation involving loss of jobs, or fear of a loss of jobs, particularly by one nation to a rival. Examples include:


The Commission on Presidential Debates and PBS transcribed "job-sucking sound".

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN; Transcript of 2d TV Debate Between Bush, Clinton and Perot". The New York Times. New York Times Company. 16 October 1992. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  2. ^ Landler, Mark (2004), "Hungary Eager and Uneasy Over New Status," The New York Times, March 5, 2004, Business, p. 1
  3. ^ Friedman, Thomas L (2004), "What's That Sound?," The New York Times, April 1, 2004, editorial section, p. 23
  4. ^ Sharkey, Joe (2005) "Memo Pad," The New York Times, June 28, 2005, Business section, p. 8: "THAT GIANT SUCKING SOUND—In a stark reminder of the harsh personal toll of the airline industry's slump, the government released figures showing that employment at the major carriers has fallen 34 percent during the last four years...."
  5. ^ "Steve LaTourette blames D.C. sucking sound on politicians' sphincters | Openers Archive Site -". 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2010-05-04.