Some in Washington would have you believe that because companies like ExxonMobil are profitable, we are “taking from” the U.S. economy, rather than contributing to it.
But the facts prove otherwise. Last year, while ExxonMobil’s operating earnings in the U.S. were $9.6 billion, our total contribution to the U.S. economy was $72 billion. That is how much ExxonMobil spent in the United States on things like taxes, salaries, returns to our investors and money paid to other businesses and industries to keep our U.S. operations running.
In other words, for every dollar we earned in the U.S., we contributed seven more dollars to the U.S. economy – to both governments and individual Americans.
Here are the details. In 2011, ExxonMobil paid approximately:
- $29 billion to our investors in the form of dividends and share buybacks. Investors of oil and gas companies include teachers, government workers and other public pension holders, as well as the millions of Americans who invest in IRAs or mutual funds.
- $19 billion in goods and services related to running our U.S. production, manufacturing and office facilities, including payroll to our more than 30,000 U.S. employees.
- $12 billion in capital spending, which goes to contractors, construction companies, raw materials and other spending on goods and services related to our U.S. oil, natural gas and chemicals activities.
- $12 billion to the U.S. government (local, state and federal) in the form of taxes and duties.
All told, that’s $72 billion that governments can use to fund vital services, companies can use to hire workers, and investors can use to save for retirement.
Let me put ExxonMobil’s economic contribution into perspective: $72 billion is roughly equal to the total federal income taxes paid by all the residents of Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina combined, according to the latest data available from the IRS. It is slightly more than the total annual operating revenue of the U.S. Postal Service.
And that $72 billion is just ExxonMobil’s contribution. When you consider the fact that ExxonMobil accounts for only about 5 percent of total U.S. oil and natural gas production, you can get a sense of the scale of the economy-wide contribution made by America’s oil and gas industry. This money creates a ripple effect of economic activity that allows other people, industries and governments to spend, hire and invest.
Why am I making this point? Because right now the United States is engaged in a discussion about how to strengthen its balance sheet, and to be successful we will need to know the difference between our assets and our liabilities. Just like other successful American companies, ExxonMobil is an asset to U.S. economic growth.