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U.S. Steel declined to comment about why it needed tax breaks to make its investment viable and declined to provide details about its negotiations with the city real pearl cufflinks. U.S. Steel’s 2018 profits shot up to $1.12 billion, from $387 million the previous year. The tariff-driven windfall has allowed the company to spend $300 million buying back its own stock. (GRAPHIC: tmsnrt.rs/2Hqle9h ). Investors remain skeptical of the company’s longer-term gains from tariffs, however. Despite recent gains after strong earnings, U.S. Steel’s stock is down 51 percent since March 1, when Trump announced he would impose steel tariffs..
That’s in part because company’s underlying weaknesses remain largely unaddressed: It has among the highest production costs in the world, according to data compiled by Goldman Sachs. Its revenue per employee pales in comparison with that of rival steelmaker Nucor Corp. And domestic steel prices, after rising with tariffs, are now drifting down amid rising supplies and slowing demand. Gary officials say the factory investment would bring the city about $1 million in new tax revenue, even after Gary allows the company to pay only half the property taxes associated with the upgrade real pearl cufflinks. That will help close a city budget deficit of $14 million, they say, while giving some assurance that company won’t abandon Gary entirely..
The harsh realities of life in Gary make it easier to understand why officials would cut whatever deal they can to keep U.S. Steel. About a third of its citizens live in poverty, and the city has long had among the nation’s highest murder rates. A fifth of its homes and half of commercial properties are vacant or abandoned. (GRAPHIC: tmsnrt.rs/2S2xH7d ). For Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, the incentives for U.S. Steel help ensure the city can retain its largest employer and taxpayer while providing an opportunity to re-engage the company in Gary’s civic life real pearl cufflinks.
“When you see an investment of this magnitude, then you see that there is a plan for a continued presence here,” she said. When the company shut down its coke plant at Gary Works four years ago, laying off hundreds of workers, the city feared the worst for the facility. Around the same time, Gary had watched the company idle most operations at its Granite City steel plant just outside of St. Louis. Trump’s tariffs prompted U.S. Steel to hire back about 800 of those Granite City workers last year after restarting two furnaces there real pearl cufflinks. But there’s no such hiring plans for Gary..
City and union leaders here have accepted a lower headcount as a fait accompli. The company has already eliminated 140 maintenance jobs on the west side of the plant since 2015, said Mark Lash, president of United Steelworkers Local 1066, which represents about 1,400 workers at the plant. The city has had its own layoffs of maintenance workers – shedding 128 of 150 of them between 2006 and 2011. It has been managing with 22 staffers for the past eight years. New spending and hiring are frozen, and city buildings are being sold to raise funds real pearl cufflinks.