June 14, 2004 -- The findings of a new government survey came as a surprise to many, revealing that only a small portion of total layoffs in the first quarter of 2004 were related to jobs moving overseas.

Of the 239,361 private sector jobs lost in January through March, only 4,633 were a result of overseas relocation.

The Department of Labor launched the new survey in January amid fierce debate over how many U.S. jobs are being outsourced to foreign countries.

The total number of job losses resulting from relocation, both domestically and overseas, was 16,021 for the quarter, according to the report. This represents less than 7 percent of total job losses during the period.

The Midwest and South experienced the most job losses from work movement, absorbing 34 percent and 31 percent respectively. The Northeast suffered the fewest, losing only 8 percent of the total.

Manufacturing was the hardest hit industry, with 65 percent of losses associated with job movement occurring there.

The survey gives a limited picture of the number of jobs relocating, as it only captures layoffs involving 50 workers or more. Additionally, only layoffs experienced at companies employing at least 50 workers are reflected, therefore overlooking many small businesses.

Regardless, the numbers are sure to be cited often, as outsourcing jobs overseas has been a major election year political issue. They also represent more good news for the Bush administration, as they come on the heels of other Labor Department data showing the U.S. economy added nearly 1 million jobs in the last three months.