President Trump’s trade war with China may seem oceans away, but it could impact jobs closer to home.
According to an analysis by the research group Brookings Institution, Bladen County ranks among the top 15 counties in the country that could be hurt by Trump's tariffs. The analysis said counties with small populations will likely see workforce impacts since they often depend on one industry for jobs, like Bladen depends on agriculture.
Residents in the area said the tariffs could affect more than just people with those jobs. It would impact the whole area.
One of the main targets of China’s tariffs is agriculture.
“We want to see less rules, less regulation, but we still want to do the right thing and take care of the environment," Sling Shaw, a Bladen County resident, said. "The farmers are just hit with enough as it is so any more problems are just detrimental to agriculture in this area."
According to the county’s economic development department, Smithfield Foods, which is owned by a Chinese company, employs almost 5,000 people from across the area, and is expected to add 300 more jobs by November.
Bladen County Executive Director of Economic Development Chuck Heustess said he isn’t too worried about the tariffs affecting jobs in the area because Smithfield hasn’t voiced it as a concern to him.
He did acknowledge, however, how much the county relies on agriculture jobs.
“Smithfield is an anchor employer for not Bladen County, but for the whole region," Heustess said. "You have as many people coming from Robeson and Cumberland County as you have Bladen County to work there. Very high paying jobs, and also excellent benefits, probably one of if not the most critical employer in the region.”
Smithfield declined to comment regarding the tariffs.
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