Trump’s Tariffs Cast a Cloud Over Texas Oil and Gas Jobs

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Tariffs on steel and aluminum will have a heavy impact on energy employment in Texas.

The US can expect to lose up to 1.5 oil and gas jobs for every single steel or aluminum job saved by President Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs, according to Karr Ingham, an economist who studies the Texas oil industry.

Texas has 225,000 jobs in oil and gas exploration, production and services, far more than the 140,000 jobs nationally in steel and aluminium that the tariffs are meant to bolster, Ingham said. And that’s not counting the Texas employees who work for refining, pipeline or petrochemical companies.

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“There’s nothing about these tariffs that can be considered positive for the oil and gas industry,” Ingham told the Houston Chronicle. “The imposition of these tariffs will result in net job loss, not just in oil and gas, but in other manufacturing sectors like construction and transportation that use steel.”

At the beginning of March, President Donald Trump imposed steep tariffs on imports of foreign steel and aluminum designed to boost American companies. Trump’s order will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports, but will exempt Canada and Mexico and leave negotiating room for US allies to avoid or lower the tariffs.

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The tariffs go into effect within two weeks and will hit Texas’ independent oil and gas producers, which on average put 10 percent of total costs into steel-related expense, according to Ingham. Refining and petrochemical companies will also feel the effects.

“Implementing tariffs on specialty steel and aluminum, which many US steelmakers do not supply in the quantities and timelines needed for projects, could harm America’s energy renaissance and jobs,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry trade group.

Manufacturing and steel workers unions, meanwhile, called Trump’s tariffs a common-sense mechanism for trade enforcement and protecting American jobs.

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