Did steel, natural gas and manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania actually grow in Trump's first term?

Erin Arvedlund, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

PHILADELPHIA -- On the campaign trail, President Trump told a crowd in Hershey, Pa., on Tuesday that he had brought back jobs to Pennsylvania, in particular in steel, energy and manufacturing.

Trump said steel mills in Pennsylvania are "roaring back to life" -- while job cuts in the industry have recently been announced -- and he said ramped-up natural gas production will create thousands of jobs. He blasted Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, who have said they would move to end the use of fossil fuels.

The real job figures are mixed.

In March 2018, Trump imposed tariffs of 25% on foreign steel and 10% on aluminum.

The result?

The Bureau of Labor statistics found 36,249 workers in primary metal manufacturing as of June 2019.


Those jobs are up from 34,763 at the beginning of 2017, when Trump's first term began, for a gain of 1,486 workers, or 4% increase. Employers include U.S. Steel, AK Steel, Arcelor Mittal and related companies such as Carpenter Technologies.

But the number still hasn't recovered to the high in 2001 of 56,489 workers in steel, the oldest date available from the BLS online. The long term trend, experts say, can show deeper shift in the industry than short term boosts triggered by tariffs.

Current Pennsylvania steel workers earn $3.14 billion in wages and salaries annually, an average of $92,037, while generating $22.45 billion in economic output, as well as paying federal, state, and local taxes, the American Iron & Steel Institute estimates.

Moreover, steel workers are a rounding error, compared to the 150 million or so Americans in the workforce.


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