In another example of the revival of the steel industry, this Illinois Town is benefiting thanks to the steel tariffs:
Nearly half of the returning 800 U.S. Steel jobs will be filled with employees who were laid off in 2015 when the plant was idled, according to spokeswoman Meghan Cox, who wouldn’t disclose salary ranges for the jobs. But there’s new blood, too, with about 56 percent of those positions going to new hires.
DeBruce said he tries to ignore the “political noise” and focus on what the U.S. Steel jobs mean for his business and the town as a whole.
“These are things that should have been implemented a long time ago, and it would have never got this far,” he said of the tariffs. “They seem like they’re drastic changes. But something has to be done. So whether you like it or you don’t like it, it’s one of those things that for us, right now, is working.”
The plant had been idled before, but never for so long, and never affecting as many workers. With so many people out of work, some local merchants closed their doors, leaving downtown peppered with abandoned buildings. Residents say crime increased, as did drug use. The line grew devastatingly long at the local food pantry.
There is trepidation about history repeating itself.
“With U.S. Steel, you don’t know what is going to happen,” DeBruce said. “Are they going to run a while and close again? The uncertainty of that is scary for everybody. You just kind of roll with it and hope things go good, because you have no choice.”
Some have returned to work at the plant with a promise to themselves to build up savings or pay off credit card bills they racked up while unemployed.