Washington is among the states with the most to lose if China slaps back against tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump. A new analysis of the effects of China’s threatened retaliation should give U.S. officials pause.
When it comes to a potential trade war with China, no one wins — but Washington state in particular has a great deal to lose.
A new analysis by the Brookings Institution, an independent think tank, finds that Washington would get hit especially hard by China’s proposed clapback to a slew of U.S. tariffs.
Nearly 154,000 of Washington’s employees work in industries that would be affected by China’s countermeasures, a higher number of workers than in any other state besides California or Texas, according to the Brookings study.
This is data that should give the U.S. government pause. Clearly, the economic consequences of President Donald Trump’s fight with China would stretch from the American heartland to the coasts, hurting states red and blue alike.
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The threatened tariffs on 234 U.S. goods are China’s response to the Trump administration announcing higher import fees on steel and aluminum, along with potential tariffs on about 1,300 products specifically made in China.
Brookings examined how many U.S. jobs could be affected by China’s planned retaliation, as well as where those jobs are located.
By one measure, Washington would be the worst off of any state in the nation. Jobs in directly affected industries here make up 4.8 percent of the total workforce, a larger share than in any other state, according to the Brookings study. Kansas has the second-largest percentage of potentially affected jobs, at 3.5 percent of its total employment.
Among all U.S. counties, King and Snohomish counties trail only California’s Los Angeles County as having the highest number of jobs that could be at risk.
In Snohomish County, the 39,000 directly affected jobs equal about 15 percent of the total workforce, consisting mostly of airplane manufacturing jobs at Boeing, according to Brookings.
Washington’s agricultural counties also would suffer acutely from China’s proposed tariffs on wheat, wine and fruit. Walla Walla County is home to about 5,000 jobs that could be affected, amounting to about 19 percent of the county’s total workforce. Okanogan, Chelan and Douglas counties would be pummeled as well.
With these numbers in mind, one thing becomes clear: The Trump administration’s escalating economic fight with China does not put American workers first.
Certain actions may be warranted to penalize China for unscrupulous business practices, such as stealing U.S. businesses’ intellectual property.
But by turning to tariffs as a means of punishing China, Trump risks weakening some of the very industries that many Americans rely on for their livelihood here at home.