Updated Sep 8, 2018 - Economy & Business

11 million U.S. workers are in the trade war's crosshairs

With an escalation in President Trump's trade war possible as early as Thursday, retaliatory tariffs threaten U.S. companies employing some 11 million workers, according to an Axios analysis.

Why it matters: Industries affected by the brinksmanship are mostly concentrated in rural, deeply red, already-struggling parts of the country, with political consequences for Trump and Republicans in 2018 and beyond.

Explanation of the map: The map tracks the geographical impact of both current and threatened retaliation. The darker a county, the higher the concentration of affected industries there.

Driving the news: On Thursday, a public comment period ends on Trump's threat to quadruple tariffs on China, slapping them on $200 billion in Chinese goods, up from $50 billion in force today. If Trump proceeds this week or later, as experts expect him to, China has said it will retaliate with tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. exports.

That's on top of 25% and 10% tariffs enacted, respectively, on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, China, Mexico and the European Union, and by those countries against the U.S.

Employment in rural and low-population counties can be exceptionally vulnerable to gyrations in the global economy, said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "In a small county, a single meat packing establishment can provide hundreds of jobs and make up a large share of that county's total employment," he told Axios. A prior report by Muro and others at Brookings inspired this analysis.

Against these impacts, the Trump administration has provided a $4.7 billion bailout to soybean farmers, hit with retaliatory tariffs by China, their biggest customer. Republicans have criticized the compensation.

Methodology: We calculated the concentration of industries in each county compared with the national average. To get there, we gathered lists of goods facing tariffs from Canada, China, Mexico, and the European Union. The data is from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Quarterly Census of Employment Wages.

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