Society

CEO Of US Steel: We May Hire More Workers

| by Robert Fowler

United States Steel Corp CEO Mario Longhi has stated the he would like to make a concerted investment in U.S. jobs, citing his belief that his company will have a more economically favorable climate under President-elect Donald Trump.

On Dec. 7, Longhi asserted the likelihood of corporate tax cuts and environmental deregulation under a Republican administration could prompt his Pittsburgh-based company to rehire many of the workers it had laid off since the 2008 Great Recession.

"We already structured to do some things, but when you see in the near future improvement to the tax laws, improvements to regulation, those two things by themselves may be a significant driver to what we're going to do," Longhi told CNBC. "I'd be more than happy to bring back the employees we've been forced to lay off during that depressive period ... could be close to 10,000 jobs."

In 2007, U.S. Steel had roughly 28,000 employees in North America. That number declined to around 21,000 in 2016. The American steel industry as a whole has laid off 16,000 employees since January 2015, according to Reuters.

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The U.S. Steel company later clarified that Longhi was not proposing it will resurrect 10,000 jobs, but was proposing the company would help restore those jobs in the industry overall.

The American steel industry has attributed its shrinking workforce to the saturation of Chinese steel in the world market. China provides roughly one-half of all global steel exports and has been accused by competing countries of "dumping" markets with cheap surplus steel.

In 2016, the U.S. imposed tariffs on Chinese steel of up to 266 percent, causing the Asian country's steel exports to drop by 16 percent in November 2016 compared to November 2015, MarketWatch reports.

Following Trump's election win, U.S. Steel shares have risen by 80 percent. Industry investors believe Trump's proposal to dramatically increase infrastructure spending and to impose even stiffer tariffs on Chinese steel could provide a boon to the American steel market.

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Longhi also noted that Trump's plans to drastically cut back on environmental regulations will also help his company. In his view, regulations have affected the types and numbers of employees he hires.

"There was a point in time in the past couple years that I was having to hire more lawyers to try to interpret these new regulations than I was hiring… engineers," Longhi said. That doesn't make any sense."

The U.S. Steel CEO concluded, "I have not felt an environment of positive optimism, where forces are converging to provide for better environment in quite a while."

On Dec. 5, House Republicans stripped a provision from the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund that would have mandated that only iron and steel products made in the U.S. be used in constructing water systems nationwide, the Daily Kos reports.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio blasted the maneuver, accusing his GOP colleagues of not following through on the rhetoric of their party nominee during campaign season.

"This was the first major test of whether Washington establishment Republicans would live up to President-elect Trump's promises to put American products and American workers first -- they failed, and American iron and steel workers will pay the price," Brown said.

Sources: CNBC, Daily KosMarketWatch, Reuters, Reuters via Yahoo Sports / Photo credit: Worldsteel/Flickr

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