b'1.4 Tariffs, a manufacturing slump and the steel industryDemand, production, and share prices are all down; layoffs are on their way upA superficial reading of United States steel industry statistics could tend to bear out Pres-Peter Buxbaum, AJOT ident Donald Trumps trade policy. Through August 2019, U.S. imports of steel decreased This article was originally published on November 25, 2019 in issue #698 13.4% on the year in terms of tonnage and 15.7% in terms of value. In August 2019, the steel trade deficit was 42.7% lower than the year before.Year-to-date production as of early November was up by 2.5% from the same period last year for the domestic industry, and the capability utilization rate stood at 80.3%up 2.4% from 2018 when the year-to-date utilization rate was 78.1%.But other numbers tell a different story. Output by U.S. mills began to decline in early No-vember, as did the average mill utilization rate. In September, U.S. mills saw a decrease in domestic shipments of over 700,000 compared to the month before as well as a small decline in total exports. Steel import permit applications in October increased by 29.2%.Manufacturing RecessionThere has been much talk about whether the U.S. is experiencing a manufacturing re-cession, all of which may be beside the point since there is no accepted definition of what constitutes a recession in a particular industry. It is clear, however, that Trumps trade war has led to a global trade slump and, in turn, slowdowns in manufacturing and in capital spending by U.S. businesses. Manufacturing output in the U.S. is down 0.9% in the past year, while factory shipments are down 0.4% year-on-year according to the Census Bureau. These numbers are not as severe as those experienced during the 2008 recession or even the 2015-2016 manufacturing slump, but they do indicate a downturn. So, does the plunge in the Institute for Supply Managements manufacturing index, which fell from 60.8 in August 2018 to a 10-year low of 47.8 in Sep-tember.The steel industry, domestically and worldwide, are bearing the brunt of these trends, as are the workers employed in that sector. The most recent U.S. jobs report beat expectations, but held some ominous import for manufacturing workers, with a decline in hours worked. In the steel sector, lower demand and production cutbacks have meant layoffs at several steel companies this year.12 THE UNCONTAINED www.theuncontained.com'