Steel layoffs counter Trump claims of economic resurgence

President Donald Trump's assertion that his 25 percent tariff on imported steel has helped to reinvigorate and rescue the American steel industry took a hit this week, as U.S. Steel told the state of Michigan that the company was laying off workers at one of its mills, with more layoffs envisioned after the end of September.

But those moves by U.S. Steel paint a starkly different message from what the President has been saying.

"Those steel mills - U.S. Steel and all of them, all of them - they're expanding all over the place," the President said last week during a visit to Pennsylvania.

But in papers filed with the state of Michigan by U.S. Steel, a different picture emerges.

"The purpose of this letter is to notify you of layoffs," U.S. Steel wrote to the Michigan Workforce Development Agency.

The letter detailed the layoff of 27 part-time workers on July 21, with another 23 layoffs on August 4, with more layoffs likely to "occur before the end of September."

"It is anticipated that further layoffs are likely to commence on September 30, 2019 and may continue periodically thereafter based on market conditions," the U.S. Steel communique states.

Last week during a stop outside Pittsburgh, President Trump said the steel business was going downhill before his tariffs.

"Your business was dead," Mr. Trump said bluntly. "I don't want to be overly crude. Your business was dead."

But U.S. Steel has seen its stock price drop by over half, as the price of steel has dropped as well.

"A week ago, President Trump said his tariffs — one of the largest middle class tax hikes in history — saved the steel industry," said 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.

In June, U.S. Steel said it would idle one blast furnace in Michigan, and one in Gary, Indiana, citing falling steel prices and sluggish sales.

"Our economy is doing fantastically," President Trump said on Tuesday in the Oval Office - but maybe not for those getting pink slips in the steel industry.

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