U.S. Steel to shed up to 1,000 Southern Illinois jobs
U.S. Steel is cutting up to 1,000 jobs and selling parts of its Granite City plant. The move comes as Madison County employment remains down over 5,600 jobs since the pandemic.
U.S. Steel Corp. is set to be the latest in a growing number of businesses to make changes to their Illinois operations that would result in job losses for the state.
On June 28, company leaders announced plans to sell two blast furnaces at its Granite City Works facility. The move is expected to cut up to 1,000 jobs.
Job losses at the plant would come as the area is struggling to regain jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic and state-mandated shutdowns. Madison County is still missing over 5,600 jobs relative to pre-pandemic levels. If all 1,000 steel jobs were lost today, Madison County’s employment would be down by more than 6,600 jobs – a full 5% since May 2019.
In 2018, when President Trump signaled he would impose a 25% duty on foreign steel, steel factories in Granite City stood ready to capitalize. Business is not so good today. One of the key ingredients for forging steel is pig iron, and U.S. steelmakers source more than 60% of their pig iron from producers in the Black Sea, a region between Europe and Asia bordering both Ukraine and Russia.
The war between the two countries has likely made it harder for U.S. Steel to get the pig iron it needs, so the steel company is looking for ways to reduce costs. The 121-year-old company is planning to sell its blast furnaces to SunCoke Energy Inc., which wants to transition the Granite City mill to start producing their own pig iron as early as 2024 to sell to U.S. Steel’s factories in other states. The transition is set to cost Granite City roughly 1,000 jobs.
This news comes as three other companies have announced plans to move employees out of state. Boeing, Caterpillar and Citadel have all said they will be moving their headquarters out of Illinois in favor of more business-friendly states.
While Illinois can’t control international events, it can improve the state’s business climate to help retain and attract employers. The first step to reverse the slide will be for voters to take a hard look at Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Should Amendment 1 pass, Illinois’ $313 billion pension debt will continue to balloon as state and local taxes, which are already among the highest in the nation, rise in an attempt to keep up. Spending on vital programs will continue to fall. Illinois’ housing and labor markets are already suffering as high taxes and reduced services make finding a job and living in the state tenuous.
The amendment would guarantee taxpayers and lawmakers would have an extremely difficult time removing these barriers to prosperity in Illinois. These barriers translate into higher costs for both businesses and individuals, including a projected $2,149 property tax during the coming four years.
Instead, if Illinois works to reduce these barriers, businesses will be able to operate more freely. That freedom translates into lower costs and more opportunity for families and businesses, which in turn can reverse Illinois’ decline.
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