U.S. Steel Announces Idling Of East Chicago Tin Mill, Laying Off Around 150 Workers

Aug 23, 2019

U.S. Steel announced Friday the company will idle its East Chicago Tin mill where an estimated 150 workers could face layoffs.

“A significant contributor to this decision is our low tin mill capacity utilization driven by the continued high levels of low-priced imports that have captured roughly half of the U.S. tin mill products market,” said a statement released by a U.S. Steel spokesperson. “These import levels make operating a three-facility footprint like ours unsustainable under current market conditions." 

Ball State economist Michael Hicks says because of the trade war, there will likely be more layoffs in states like Indiana.

“And so the very first people to face, sort of, slowdown are gonna be those states that are so heavily invested in plant and equipment,” says Hicks.

He says other jobs in industries including automobiles, recreational vehicles and transportation equipment parts will also likely see a downturn.

Purdue University associate professor of economics Anson Soderbery says the announcement of the tin mill stopping production doesn’t surprise him.

“Steel, I’ve argued and a lot of people have argued, is one of the more dangerous products to start taxing because it’s such a core input into so many different things made in the U.S.,” says Soderbury. “This was the goal of the policies: was protecting the U.S. steel workers. What was never really discussed by the administration, is at what cost and what trade-offs is associated with that.”

U.S. Steel's comments also said the company would try to offer the other half of the 297 employees working at the tin mill other positions in the company, but did not have exact numbers at the time.

Contact Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5