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Bloomberg, December 18, 2019: Trump’s Tariffs Revived a Steel Town, But Industry Is Unforgiving
As Bloomberg notes, "U.S. Steel’s furnaces in Granite City, Illinois, are burning again. No one knows how long they will stay lit."
The Trump 25 percent tariff on imported steel gave a reprieve to US Steel's Granite City steel mill that had closed and then reopened after Trump's tariffs went into effect. However, the Granite City steel mill's days are numbered. It was built in 1921 and is inefficient compared to the many nimbler and more efficient "mini-steel" mills that have opened up in the southern USA where labor is also cheaper and non-unionized.
Another factor that does not bode well for the Granite City mill that Trump touts and brags about at every opportunity is that there is a glut of steel on the market right now despite the Trump tariffs and "booming economy". Prices of steel are down 40 percent from the 2018 highs after Trump's tariffs were announced.
Like all manufacturing in the so called "Rust Belt", simply reviving old plants without investing in new more efficient technologies is not going to cut it. Rusty old plants and mills cannot compete in the long run. It's also why much of the auto industry manufacturing continues to slowly move away from Michigan and Ohio to other US states...and Mexico.