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Builders Say Construction Jobs Will Be Lost From Trump Steel Tariffs


By Ryan Berlin Design & Construction

With the introduction of steel and aluminum tariffs from the Trump Administration, the effects on the building trades could jeopardize nearly 30,000 jobs.

Associated General Contractors of America says rising steel and aluminum prices will make some construction projects unaffordable and, as a result, thousands of jobs tied to those projects will be jeopardized, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"These new tariffs will cause significant harm to the nation's construction industry, put tens of thousands of high-paying construction jobs at risk, undermine the president's proposed infrastructure initiative, and potentially dampen demand for new construction projects for years to come,” Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"Considering the damages these new tariffs will inflict on the construction industry, it is easy to understand why recent, independent studies estimate that nearly 30,000 construction workers will lose their jobs because of these new tariffs,” Sandherr says.

Trump signed orders imposing a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum. Canada and Mexico are exempted from the levies, but other countries have said it will trigger a trade war.

Steel accounts for roughly 10 percent of equipment manufacturers' direct costs. The price of steel has already risen in anticipation of the tariffs.

Construction spending totaled $1.263 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in January, unchanged from the upwardly revised December rate and 3.2 percent higher than January 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau figures.

Construction employment increased in 269 of 358 metro areas between December 2016 and December 2017, declined in 43 areas and was flat in 46, according to an analysis of federal employment data by Associated General Contractors of America.

Some of the largest construction job losses from December 2016 to December 2017 were in Columbia, S.C., (down 3,200 jobs, 20 percent) and Kansas City, Mo., (down 2,800 jobs, 10 percent).

This Quick Read was submitted by Ryan Berlin, managing editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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