Economic woes in Rust Belt states threaten Trump's 2020 chances -- and it’s predicted to get worse
Donald Trump at a rally, photo by Gage Skidmore.

Job growth has slowed sharply in states President Donald Trump won in 2016 -- and needs to win re-election next year.


States that depend heavily on manufacturing and agriculture have been hit hard by Trump's trade war, and tariffs have driven up prices on imported parts and materials while also reducing demand for American products overseas, reported the New York Times.

Trump promised to bring jobs back to Rust Belt states, but growth has dramatically slowed down in recent months in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“Apart from agriculture and manufacturing, everything’s going OK,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who tracks nine states from Minnesota to Arkansas. “Well, in this part of the country that’s not comforting. Those are the two industries we depend on.”

Factory employment has dropped off in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states, and economists believe the manufacturing sector is in recession -- which will really hurt the Midwest.

The overall unemployment rate is currently hovering around 4 percent there, and is even lower in some states.

Michigan is the only Midwestern state that hasn't added jobs in the last year, after a strike at General Motors temporarily knocked about 17,000 workers off payrolls in October.

Early polls show Trump leading in the Midwest against various Democratic candidates, and his approval rating has remained stable, and it's not clear that voters will blame the slowdown on Trump.

“Many of these voters are resistant to the notion that this is a bad time because they have lived through a very bad time,” said Patrick Anderson, an economist in East Lansing, Michigan.

Job growth for manufacturing has been much weaker in Midwestern counties that backed Barack Obama but flipped to Trump, and hiring has slowed down in the transportation and warehousing industry, as well.

The U.S. and China have announced an agreement to reduce tariffs and scale back the trade war, but it will take time to reverse the damage even if the deal sticks -- and economists are predicting job loss will likely get worse in the coming months.

“By September or October of next year, if you’re campaigning in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, western Pennsylvania or Indiana, you can point clearly to the trade war as a cause of growing economic malaise in those states,” Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University.