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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The manufacturing industry got a huge boost from President Trump's election, seeing a groundswell of job gains during his first year in office. But the trade war with China has undone that progress: Jobs in the sector have stalled out and turned negative in 2019.

Why it matters: Reviving American manufacturing was a central tenet of Trump's 2016 campaign, and the industry's retrenchment shows how another Trump constituency is being punished as a result of his trade war. (The nation's farmers are also struggling mightily.)

By the numbers: In Trump’s first 30 months as president, manufacturers added 499,000 jobs, some 314,000 more than were added in President Obama's last 30 months on the job — a 170% increase.

  • That seemed to put Trump in position to fulfill a central campaign promise to "bring back" manufacturing jobs in the U.S. — jobs that Obama said would never return.

Yes, but: That progress has evaporated this year. Manufacturing employment has slowed, and in October employers cut jobs in the sector by the highest number in a decade.

  • October's purge was blamed largely on striking auto workers, but it followed a clear trend in the industry.
  • Over the last six months, manufacturing has lost a net 23,000 jobs, and average hours worked has fallen to its lowest level in eight years, according to BLS data.
  • The number of people employed in the sector also remains well below where it was in 2008.

What's happening: "Our plan is to try to hold on until the end of the year without raising prices," Gary Yacoubian, CEO of Youngstown, Ohio-based speaker company SVS Sound, tells Axios.

  • "If the tariffs remain, I’m going to have to start making moves," Yacoubian says.
  • "Meaning: the consumer will pay, and I’ll pay, and then employees will pay, if we don’t grow according to plan."

Watch this space: The Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book, which tracks businesses around the country, painted a clear picture:

  • “Several retailers reported that tariffs were raising costs and hurting profit margins," the Fed's Richmond office reported.
  • “Uncertainty generally remained elevated, driven by trade tensions, the political climate, and weaker global growth," the Dallas Fed noted.
  • “Business contacts in retail and manufacturing reported facing increased price pressures due to tariffs," the St. Louis Fed found.

What's next: Things will likely get worse before they get better, Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at tax and consulting firm RSM, tells Axios.

  • More companies are starting to face higher costs from tariffs, and those that have already been affected are starting to cut back hours and lay off workers to compensate for their losses.
  • "In order to bolster the economy [the administration] will need to roll back those tariffs, and that’s a difficult pill to swallow for Mr. Trump and his followers," Brusuelas says.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.