There is much discussion in the press about the Trump administration’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum. While perspectives vary on the positive and negative impacts, one thing everyone seems to agree on is that there are always winners and losers when it comes to tariffs.
Companies in the steel and aluminum industries are praising the president for job creation, as are their investors for anticipated increased earnings. Finding Alpha wrote in a recent article, “it will create new, good jobs, which will boost the economy. And these jobs that are recovered in the United States will raise wages if enough jobs come back.”
However, any gains need to be considered in coordination with possible losses. A recent Washington Post article featured a graphic on the projected job gains and losses as a result of the tariffs across various industries. The net job gains over a period of three years was projected to be 30,000, while the projected losses totaled more than 400,000.
While the Washington Post provides a good estimate on future impact, we decided to take a look at historical hiring by looking at the job listings in LinkUp’s extensive database. We looked at a variety of companies on both sides of the tariff impact spectrum to get a feel for how job listing numbers have changed since Trump’s tariff announcement and implementation, and also in comparison to job listings from the previous year.
The first chart below compares U.S. job openings at some of the largest steel manufacturers based in the U.S. The dark line demonstrates daily year-to-date openings for 2018, and the light blue line is the same days in 2017. The chart illustrates job openings had been trending slightly above 2017 counts until March 2018 when Trump announced steel tariffs. Once the tariffs took effect, job openings in 2018 sky-rocketed over the same time period in 2017. The re-starting of forges that had been closed for years drove job openings in 2018 to be over 40% higher than job openings in 2017.
In the second chart, we show job openings for a select number of companies that use steel as an input into their final product. It’s these companies that could be hurt the most by the rising cost of steel. This chart shows almost the exact opposite trend as the first chart. Job openings among these companies had been trending quite a bit higher in early 2018 compared to the same time period in 2017 until the steel tariffs took effect. After that, job openings plunged to their lowest level so far in 2018.
These charts highlight just some of the winners and losers of the tariffs debates. We’ll continue to explore our job listings data for insights into the impacts of these and other tariffs.
Featured Campbells image: Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com