Trump's Tariffs Are Causing Cascading Layoffs in Missouri


  • photo by Danny Wicentowski

The Mid Continent Nail Corporation and the SEMO Box Company have done business together for more than 25 years, but soon their shared history might be wiped out.

At the beginning of June, the Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, had more than 500 employees. But Donald Trump’s recent updates to tariffs on steel goods caused the company to lose 50 percent of its business in two weeks and forced the factory to lay off 60 temporary workers. Newsweek reports that the business may be forced to cut 200 additional jobs by the end of next month.

Mid Continent imports its steel from Deacero, its own parent company located in Mexico. That steel is now subject to a 25 percent tax. Bosses are hoping that the U.S. Commerce Department will expedite a tariff exclusion on steel wire. Soon. Though the nail company is one of the largest employers in the Ozark foothills, CNN Money reports that the business is “on the brink of extinction.” If things continue along this same path, the company could be completely shut down by Labor Day, with all 500 jobs lost.

This is also very bad news for the SEMO Box Company. According to Missourinet, until about ten days ago, the Cape Girardeau-based SEMO Box Company “had been shipping one daily tractor trailer load of corrugated boxes” to Mid Continent. But because of new steel tariffs, the nail factory doesn’t need nearly as many boxes for its nails.

SEMO Box Company has reported that it, too, has had to lay off employees as a result of the tariff. Four have gotten the axe so far, but co-owner Tim Powderly told MissouriNet that SEMO Box Company plans soldier on.

“Mid Continent Nail is a big part of our company, but we will make it,” he said, “It just really hurts.”

Donald Trump won 56.4 percent of the vote in Missouri, with Hillary Clinton taking just under 38 percent. In Cape Girardeau County, Trump's percentage of the vote grew to 72 percent; in Butler County, which includes Poplar Bluff and the Mid Continent factory, he won support from 79.1 percent of voters.

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