September 15, 2008

Gold Reserves Behind Bars — Fort Knox, Fed Keep Millions of Ounces

The Associated Press invites news-related questions and answers them periodically in this Ask AP feature. This week's questions concern the nation's gold reserves and outsourcing.

Q: How much gold is stored at Fort Knox? And is it all the property of the American public?

- Jeff Kimball, Salt Lake City

A: The vaults hold 147.3 million ounces of gold, all of which is owned by the United States.

The gold, valued at more than $100 billion, is stored at the United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Ky. That's part of the U.S. Mint, which makes the nation's coins. The Fort Knox depository is a classified facility; no visitors are permitted.

But Fort Knox isn't the largest depository of gold in the country - a full 216 million ounces of gold, worth $160 billion, is stored at the New York office of the Federal Reserve. Tours of the Fed's gold vaults are available to the public.

The gold at the New York Fed belongs to foreign governments, central banks and international monetary organizations, with only small portion belonging to U.S. government.

Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer

Q: How many jobs are currently being outsourced overseas? I could really use one of those jobs, as could so many unemployed Americans.

- C. Strasser, Oregon

A: Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to that question, in part because it depends on what is meant by "outsourcing": Does it include only jobs that once were done in the United States but are now overseas? Or does it also include new jobs created by U.S. companies overseas that at least theoretically could have been located in the United States?

The closest official answer can be found in a quarterly Labor Department survey of companies that have laid off 50 or more workers. That survey asks the companies whether the layoffs occurred because the jobs were moved offshore. In the April-June quarter, only about 2,700 job cuts out of nearly 300,000 layoffs were attributed to jobs being moved overseas, the department found.

But many economists feel the survey captures only a small fraction of layoffs and isn't particularly reliable.

Also, some foreign companies invest in the United States, potentially creating jobs.

- Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Business Writer

Have questions of your own? Send them to [email protected]

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