Update on Steel Tariffs

I’ve taken a close look at the ITC’s newly-released report on the impact of Bush’s steel tariffs (see my earlier post for more). Here are some selected bits of information that I’ve drawn from the report:

– Since the tariffs caused the price of their biggest input (steel) to go up, steel-consuming firms, such as auto parts producers, appliance manufacturers, construction firms, etc. have reduced employment. The US economy has lost between 33,500 and 50,000 manufacturing jobs as a direct result of the tariffs.

– Many steel-using firms – almost one out of ten – have moved significant amounts of production offshore to remain competitive in the face of the steel tariffs.

– Overall, US workers earned about $400 million less in wages during the year after the tariff, as a direct result.

– Employment in the steel industry itself has continued to fall. Employment fell by 26,000 (6.9%) in the year before the tariffs were imposed. But employment fell by 37,000 (10.6%) in the year after the tariffs. There is no estimate of whether the tariff had much impact on this continuing loss of jobs, but from this data it is obvious that it has not saved many jobs, if it saved any at all.

Presumably the Bush administration imposed the tariffs to try to help US manufacturing. (Though of course one could argue that the tariffs were purely a political calculation, and that the Bushies didn’t care about manufacturing jobs in general.) These reports therefore document yet another pathetic failure of the Bush administration.