Brookings Institution

Chinese Retaliatory Tariffs ‘Shrewdly’ Designed to Hurt Rural America

Axios has posted an interactive map that shows the localized effects of  Chinese retaliatory tariffs if President Trump acts on his threat to impose another $200 billion on tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States.

Axios has posted an interactive map that shows the localized effects of  Chinese retaliatory tariffs if President Trump acts on his threat to impose another $200 billion on tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States. has posted a story with an interactive map showing areas of the country destined to feel the greatest pain from retaliatory tariffs spurred by President Trump’s trade policies.

“Industries affected by the brinksmanship are mostly concentrated in rural, deeply red, already-struggling parts of the country, with political consequences for Trump and Republicans in 2018 and beyond,” according to the Axios analysis. 

The analysis drew on data from the Brookings Institution, US Chamber of Commerce, US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Axios posted the map after a public comment period ended last week on Trump’s threat to quadruple tariffs on Chinese goods to $200 billion. China has said it will retaliate with $60 billion in tariffs on US exports.

“That's on top of 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs enacted, respectively, on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, China, Mexico and the European Union, and by those countries against the United States,” Axios reported.

US farmers, manufacturers and consumer groups have been bracing for the blowback. The Axios map helps to localize where the most severe impact could be felt. For example, it identifies six industries in Douglas County that would be affected by retaliatory tariffs, which is 95 times more concentrated impact than the the national average. The map identifies 35 affected industries in Clackamas County.

“Employment in rural and low-population counties can be exceptionally vulnerable to gyrations in the global economy,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells Axios. "In a small county, a single meatpacking establishment can provide hundreds of jobs and make up a large share of that county's total employment.”

Muro  and a colleague wrote a previous report anticipating the impact of retaliatory Chinese tariffs with this observation: “Trade diplomacy can often seem an international and faraway activity. However, when it comes down to specific lists of tariffs on particular products that Americans produce, from ginseng to airplanes, the high-level posturing of Washington and Beijing suddenly gets more real.”

He added: “Our top line estimates suggest while the total number of jobs potentially disrupted by an all-out trade war remains modest, the count encompasses a diverse and shrewdly chosen ‘hit list’ of hallmark American industries – one that appears well-calculated to scare both red and blue America.”

Trump has assured his supporters, especially in the Farm Belt, his take-no-prisoners approach to international trade can produce positive results for US workers, businesses and farmers. In response to immediate-term impacts on soybean growers and other farm interests, Trump proposed a one-time $4.2 billion subsidy. It has met with opposition and disappointment by congressional Republicans and recipients of the aid.


College Students and the First Amendment

A Brookings Institution survey reveals that college students may not be completely comfortable with freedom of expression on campus – or fully familiar with what the First Amendment protects.

A Brookings Institution survey reveals that college students may not be completely comfortable with freedom of expression on campus – or fully familiar with what the First Amendment protects.

US college campuses may be a harbinger of evolving American attitudes on free speech, hate speech and the First Amendment. Survey research conducted for the Brookings Institution reveals sharp divisions by political affiliation, gender and type of university over what speech is acceptable and what isn’t.

The research also demonstrates college students may not know what the First Amendment says.

Regarding hate speech, 44 percent of the 1,500 current undergraduate students at US four-year colleges and universities who were interviewed in the latter part of August, said the US Constitution does not protect it, while 50 percent said it does. (It does.) Students identifying as Republicans, private college undergraduates and males were more likely to say there is constitutional protection for hate speech than Democrats, public college students and women. The gap was largest between men and women. Fifty-one percent of men said hate speech is protected as opposed to only 31 percent of women.

When it comes to controversial speakers on campus, 62 percent of students identifying as Democrats think it is acceptable to shout down an objectionable speaker, contrasted with only 39 percent of Republican students.

There is no difference in attitudes by public and private college students, but again males and females sharply disagree. Fifty-seven percent of men agree it is okay to disrupt a controversial speaker compared to 47 percent of women.

Jason Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, said the most disturbing aspect of this finding is that overall 51 percent of students find it acceptable to shout down a speaker they find offensive. In response to a separate question, 19 percent of all students thought it was acceptable for student groups to use violence to block a speaker. Again, there was a significant gender difference, with 30 percent of males saying it was okay to use violence contrasted to 10 percent of females.

“The survey results establish what has been clear anecdotally to anyone who has been observing campus dynamics in recent years: Freedom of expression is deeply imperiled on US campuses,” he says.

Villasenor attributes student views to a lack of knowledge about what the First Amendment permits. For example, he posed a question about whether colleges are legally required to offset an offensive speaker with someone with an opposing view. Sixty-two percent of student respondents agreed colleges are required to balance offensive or hurtful speech with the other side, though Villasenor said there is no such constitutional requirement.

“Many of the respondents appear to be confusing good event design, which under some circumstances can indeed benefit from the presentation of counterpoints, with the completely different issue of what compliance with the First Amendment requires,” Villasenor says.

He also expressed dismay at student response to his question about whether they preferred a college atmosphere that prohibited offensive viewpoints on campus as opposed to an open learning environment that exposed students to a range of viewpoints. Fifty-three percent of students expressed a preference for a more sheltered college atmosphere. On this question, the widest gap was between Democrats and Republicans/Independents. Sixty-one percent of students identifying as Democrats favored limiting exposure to offensive speech, while only 47 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Independents shared that preference.

Villasenor believes college faculty should assume greater responsibility for “fostering freedom of expression on their campuses.” He is doubtful that will happen because he suspects faculty members may share the same viewpoints as students.

He suggests starting earlier in middle and high schools to teach students about the First Amendment. “We don’t need to turn students into experts on constitutional law, but we can do a better job of giving them a fuller explanation of the scope of the First Amendment,” Villasenor says.

Connecting Workers and Workplaces

The corporate expansion decisions of a small oscilloscope maker in the 1950s are considered the symbolic spark that ignited the explosive growth of Portland’s western suburbs.

First, the young Tektronix Inc. moved its only manufacturing facility in 1951 from Southeast Hawthorne in inner-city Portland to create its Sunset plant near what is now Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Washington County. A few short years later, Tek opened its landmark industrial campus in Beaverton.

As a high-tech pioneer in Oregon, Tek wanted to locate in a place where workers could find affordable housing, as well as have a short drive to work. That was considered an enlightened and a well-meaning workforce strategy for industry, but — decades later — a commuting dilemma for Oregon.

Here’s the irony. The Tektronix story is a local example of what happened across the nation in the following years as thousands of employers relocated or started up in the suburbs of our nation's largest cities. The legacy is a nation of urban transit systems posing great challenges for commuters trying to get to a job in the suburbs.

By 1960, the Portland area was served by a disconnected network of privately owned bus companies — Rose City Transit in the city and the suburban Blue Lines. Privately operated transit in Portland, as in most other American cities, was in a free-fall toward extinction. The state legislature created TriMet, a tax-supported public transit system in 1969, when a new trickle of public investment began to grow bus ridership.

When I commuted to Tektronix in Beaverton by bus from Southeast Portland, the one-way trip took about an hour. That was in 1990. When corporate headquarters moved to Wilsonville a year later, the trip took 90 minutes. 

It appears I was just an average commuter, according to the Brookings Institution, which joined the discussion on the future of transit with a research report released July 11,  which included a set of recommendations.

“Even though most jobs are located near transit, the typical employer can access only 27 percent of metropolitan workers within 90 minutes,” said the Brookings Institution in a summary of the report entitled “Where the jobs are: Employer Access to Labor by Transit.”

“More than three quarters of jobs are in neighborhoods served by transit, but only 27 per cent of the workforce can get to those jobs via mass transit within 90 minutes,” The Brookings report says

If our inadequate suburban systems are to improve, communities must make a deliberate decision to change, the report says.

“Our research shows that current transit systems are unprepared to adequately connect workplaces with the workforce, but there are several steps metropolitan leaders can take to improve their networks.”

The Brookings Institution study points to Atlanta as a community at the crossroads with a willingness to change. “It’s a city that has a relatively high transit coverage rate, 94 percent, while suburban transit covers only 45 percent of its jobs.”

“This dichotomy highlights the consequences of uncoordinated transportation investments and land-use decisions. An upcoming transportation referendum in the Atlanta region, one of the largest in the country, could help better connect employers to workers by increasing transit investment,” concludes the report.

Where College Grads Congregate

New data from the Brookings Institution indicates college graduates are migrating to cities, especially cities with already high levels of educational attainment. Those cities are typified by major universities, service industries, modern manufacturers — and lower unemployment.

Washington, D.C. and its surrounding suburbs lead the largest 100 American metropolitan areas in education attainment, with 46.8 percent of its residents possessing at least a 4-year college degree.

The next nine areas, in order, are San Jose-Santa Clara (45.3%), Bridgeport-Stamford (44%), San Francisco (43.4%), Madison (43.3%), Boston-Cambridge (43%), Raleigh-Durham (41%), Austin (39.4%), Denver (38.2%) and Minneapolis (37.9%).

Seattle-Tacoma ranks 11th, with 37 percent of its population holding college degrees. Portland is tied for 22nd, along with Omaha and Rochester, at 33 percent. Boise is 58th with a college degree attainment level of 28.3 percent. (Use the link below to find out how your city ranks.)

The more dramatic dimension of the data is the growing disparity in education attainment among major metropolitan areas. The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program compared attainment levels in 1970 with 2010, the latest available data, which shows that the cities with the highest number of college graduates are increasing their ranks at the fastest rate.

For example, the Boston area's growth in education attainment went up nearly 29 percent in the 40-year period. That contrasts to a growth rate of just 6 percent for Bakersfield, which came in 100th on the rankings. Its education attainment level in 1970 was 8.9 percent and now is only 15 percent.

The areas with the fastest growing concentration of college graduates, in addition to Boston, are San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta and Denver. Their gains were three times as large as the lagging education-attainment areas such as Modesto, Stockton, Lakeland, Florida, Youngstown, Ohio, El Paso and Las Vegas.

Hey, Have You Heard the News?

Once upon a time, paperboys shouted out the day's news headlines. Then radio and, later, television emerged as the way people heard about the news. Now a lot of news travels by word of mouth from family members, friends and trusted sources.

A study released Monday by the Pew Research Center describes a complex "information ecology," which includes traditional and interpersonal news sources. Study findings reinforce the advice of PR professionals who encourage integrated communications campaigns that deliver consistent messages across a range of communication channels.

Local TV still commands top position as a news source, with 74 percent of survey respondents saying they check in on broadcasts at least once a week. However, Pew says its role is narrowing and fading. While local TV news is the go-to source for weather, breaking news, politics and crime, viewers don't rely on it for business, schools, government and cultural events. Local TV news largely appeals to viewers age 40 or older. Younger people increasingly access news on mobile phones.

According to Pew, more people rely on word of mouth (55 percent) for news than radio (51 percent), newspapers (50 percent) and the Internet (47 percent), which includes social media sites such as Facebook, websites and blogs.

People use interpersonal news sources to triangulate or vet information reported by traditional or new media, Pew suggests. They also use word of mouth to personalize the news to their own circumstances. A Brookings Institution study earlier this year concluded word of mouth sources fill gaps in media coverage on education. [The report says there is a strong interest in more in-depth coverage of what goes on in schools, as well as education policy and teacher quality that affect student outcomes.]