Focus at Four: A&M researchers say tariffs aren't the answer to save steel

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Tariffs aren't the answer, but we Americans can still help steel workers. At least, that's the message from Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service professors and researchers Morten Wendelbo and Raymond Robertson.

"Trade isn't the major reason why steel jobs are in decline," said Wendelbo on First News at Four. "It's because in 1980 it took ten man-hours to produce a ton of steel; today it takes an hour and a half."

Wendelbo suggests the U.S. use other "tools in its toolbox" to address the issue instead. He said these other options wouldn't cause secondhand effects like price hikes in steel-based products or trade wars with other countries.

"Helping steel workers who are laid off find new jobs," Wendelbo said. "I know that sounds really simple, but part of it is because steel workers don't always know that their skills are so valuable in other industries."

The centralization of the steel industry also poses a problem.

"When the steel industry hurts, it's all the same small communities," said Wendelbo. "Everybody is getting laid off, and it's hard to find a new job."

Wendelbo says it's difficult to determine exactly who's responsible for decentralizing the industry, but he and Robertson hopes the powers that be will consider options besides tariffs.

For more from Wendelbo, see the video player above. For the original report from Wendelbo and Robertson, see the Related Links.