It has been one year since the Trump administration began to roll out tariffs on steel and aluminum. And the evidence is clear that the tariffs have not come at a cost of American jobs.
The new tariffs have made basic materials for the construction of goods in the United States more expensive. Steel and aluminum prices are up sharply compared with the pre-tariff era, but they have been coming down in recent months as U.S. factories have ramped up production.
When Trump announced the tariffs, critics immediately said that while they might help steel and aluminum producers, they would be a net loser for America because metals-using manufacturing employs far more Americans than metals-producing. The higher price would cause employment in metals-using manufacturing to contract, the critics charged.
But that hasn’t happened. Over the past year, employment in metals-using manufacturing is up. The strongest indication of this came on Friday, when the government released the data on job openings for January. As the year opened, durable goods manufacturing–the category that is most metals focused–posted 305,000 job openings. That’s nearly a 17 percent gain from last year, before the tariffs.
For several months, as jobs data for metals-using industry continued to show strength, critics of the tariffs charged that the costs were only delayed. One day, real soon, the tariffs would kick in and start killing jobs.
We’re now far enough into the tariff-era to render a decisive judgment: the critics were wrong. The metals tariffs have not hurt American workers.