Thanks To Trump’s Trade War, Midwestern Workers Suffer More Layoffs, Fewer Hours

Screengrab/John Deere/YouTube


Manufacturers like John Deere—a source of good-paying jobs where few exist—are downsizing labor as product demand drops.

President Donald Trump’s trade war with China led to a series of tit-for-tat tariffs and other repercussions, leaving America’s Midwestern workers facing layoffs and cut shifts as exports to China died down.

According to The Guardian, the recent cease-fire reached between Washington and Beijing is too little, too late for many Midwestern workers. The damage done to American farmers after China halted or reduced purchases of soybeans and other crops has trickled down to manufacturers of farm equipment and other necessities.

The John Deere construction and forestry manufacturing plant in Davenport, Iowa, announced earlier this month that 57 workers will be laid off at the beginning of the new year — on top of the 113 workers terminated last month. Another 23 were let go at the Des Moines plant as well.

“We were affected by these trade policies. It gives a sense of uncertainty in the economy,” said Shaun Buckles, one of the John Deere employees laid off just before the holiday season. “It’s rough on families, especially around the holidays. John Deere is one of the major employers in this area. The odds of finding something comparable to it are probably non-existent, but I can always try to hope.”

Buckles’ story is an increasingly common one in the Midwest, where manufacturing continues to suffer.

“Most states throughout the US have experienced steady job growth since the economic recession in 2008 and 2009,” The Guardian reported, “but growth in the midwest has lagged behind the rest of the country since December 2016, as sectors of manufacturing and agriculture the region relies on have taken hits due to Trump’s trade war.”

Louie Meier, another John Deere employee, said he has been experiencing minor layoffs: “I’ve had a couple weeks where I work a week, have a week off. There are a lot of folks, especially new employees, we’re worried, we don’t know what our future looks like.”

He noted that Trump is not bailing out the workers at John Deere and wondered what the president might do to help.

“Looking around the city of Dubuque, our new jobs are in fast food. We lost a manufacturing plant; Flexsteel shut down this year; and some of our other manufacturing plants that are non-union, those workers haven’t been getting raises in years,” he said. “There are lots of opportunities to get work in Dubuque if you can survive on $12 an hour.”

“Going from making over $20 an hour to making $12 an hour, it’s putting a lot of Iowans in precarious situations.”

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