Reader's View: Iron Range is not roaring back
President Donald Trump said the Minnesota Iron Range is roaring back and the economy is getting better.
We on the Iron Range want to believe Trump’s and Congressman Pete Stauber’s promise to make the Iron Range great again. We remember the days long ago when iron ore flowed from the great iron-mine pits to Pittsburgh, making the steel for a prosperous America. Iron Range legislators at the Capitol in St. Paul had a loud voice in Minnesota politics then, and our hockey teams frequently won the state tournament.
Trump claims his policies are good for Iron Range business. For Trump, that means stock-market gains benefiting corporations and big investors.
But small businesses, local governments, local retailers, restaurants, and bars have been losing money. Many are closed. Walking down the streets in Eveleth, Virginia, Babbitt, and Hibbing shows no resurgence of the Range cities’ economies. Consumer confidence is stagnant due to pandemic and unemployment.
Trump inherited a strong economy. In 2016, President Barack Obama had put in place steel-dumping tariffs. In 2017, the economy was doing well but the steel industry was not roaring. Since 2017, nearly 8,000 steel-industry workers lost their jobs in shutdowns and cutbacks. St. Louis County's current unemployment rate is 7.9%, compared to a 5.8% long-term average. Increased iron production comes from automation and other efficiencies, not increased jobs.
During this pandemic, millions are unemployed with some losing their jobs permanently. CARES Act unemployment ended months ago. The Republican Senate, paralyzed with concern for the national debt, won’t invest in workers again after giving big tax breaks to big corporations and the upper 1%.
County virus cases and deaths are soaring. Trump does not have a plan. He doesn’t even want to talk about it.
Minnesota’s Iron Range is not roaring back.