“It’s like he’s turned the lights off now. And it’s all because of the tariffs.”
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. — President Donald Trump has vowed to bring back American jobs, but three months since making his first move to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, his trade policies have cost 60 employees their positions at the country’s largest nail manufacturing plant.
For 29 years, Chris Pratt has worked the floors of the Mid Continent Nail Factory, a business started in 1987 in this town of 17,000 people. He is now the operations manager and oversees 500 employees. But this month, he eliminated 60 positions at the factory after a 50 percent drop in nail orders following Trump’s June 1 announcement of a 25 percent tariff on all steel imports from Mexico, the source of the company’s raw material.
Before this month’s layoffs, the company had doubled its workforce since 2012. But Mid Continent had to increase the price of its products to offset the cost of the tariffs. Many of the company’s customers immediately canceled their orders, since they could purchase nails at a lower price from international markets like China or Taiwan.
Pratt would like Trump to grant the company exclusions from the steel import tariffs — in which case Mid Continent would be able to re-employ the 60 workers laid off. If not, the other 500 workers’ jobs are at stake.
Although Coffer is fearful that his own job and those of his co-workers could all be at risk, he continues to support the Trump administration’s efforts.
“I know what affects me, and the tariffs are hurting me on a daily basis — I’d like to see relief,” Coffer told NBC News. “I still have faith in the president. I believe he knows what he’s doing and can turn everything around for us.”
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