Tuesday, 7,000 Ford workers worldwide will receive layoff notices. 800 of those will be American salaried workers. The jobs will be shed by August.
This after the Trump tariffs on steel and aluminum entered its second year as policy. They’ve proven costly — around $900,000 per job created according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics — and have been felt throughout the auto industry.
Fellow “Big Three” auto manufacturer General Motors cut deep last November, eliminating 15% of its salaried and contract workers and shuttering American factories. Trump attempted to spin one of those plant closures as a force creating jobs, not ending them, to little success.
The Big Three — Ford, GM and Fiat-Chrysler — have lost heavily in the Trump trade war. In the first quarter of 2018, losses to tariffs outpaced corporate savings from the very business-friendly Trump tax cuts.
“The steel and aluminum tariffs hurt,” said Ed Cohen, Honda’s vice president for government and industry affairs. “The tax bill was intended to spur economic activity and this will have the opposite economic effect.”
Honda, which got $3.11 billion from Trump’s tax policy, lost as much as $820 million to Trump’s trade policy.
Round after round of auto industry layoffs shine a light on the fragile state of the economy whose growth President Trump continues to tout. Trump’s own advisers have cautioned against the way tariffs impact the economy.
This might be partly responsible for a recent and seismic shift for the self-styled “tariff man” Donald Trump. Last week, Trump announced slashing steel tariffs against Turkey from 50% to 25%. The following day, a deal was reached to end steel and aluminum tariffs against Canada and Mexico.
The auto industry is far from the only pillar of the American economy suffering from trade wars. Layoffs are appearing in other sectors of the economy as well. Farmers, especially, struggle more now than in the past 30 years thanks to Trump’s trade wars.
The relief for metal trade will likely further stress agriculture. A world trade war may have been untenable footing for President Trump. Ending the fight in North America, however, might free Trump up to focus on U.S.-China trade hostilities.
But for another round of auto workers, the easing of tariffs comes too late.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.