TOPEKA — Kansas' economy absorbs the largest per-capita job loss in the nation if President Donald Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on imports from China and that action was reciprocated by a comparable trade assault, new research said Wednesday.
The state-by-state analysis for the Consumer Technology Association and National Retail Federation revealed U.S. net farm income would decline by 6.7 percent and lead to the evaporation of 67,000 domestic agriculture jobs in a conflict limited to $50 billion in trade by both countries. Overall, the report said, the United States would lose four jobs for every one gained in the limited conflict with China.
"Imposition by the United States of 25 percent tariffs on imports of selected products from China, coupled with promised retaliation by China, would have significant net negative impacts on the U.S. economy and U.S. employment, particularly over the one to two years after application," said researchers Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman, of Trade Partnership Worldwide in Washington, D.C.
Kansas, with a farm economy reliant on exports to China, was projected to sacrifice 2,755 jobs -- more than 1,526 in Nebraska, 2,266 in Colorado and 2,009 in Oklahoma. However, the employment dip as a percentage of overall employment would make Kansas the No. 1 loser, the report said.
"Farm country is already hurting with depressed prices and now drought," said state Rep. Russ Jennings, a Lakin Republican. "It can't withstand further declines."
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said Trump's protectionist trade policy with China was imperiling one of the most important industries in Kansas.
"The Republicans should be concerned that a Republican president is about to engage in a trade war. Particularly, since there are Kansas House and congressional elections this year," Hensley said.
The research report predicted 0.14 percent of Kansas jobs would be sacrificed in a $50 billion, two-way trade war. The rest of the top five job losers at 0.13 percent were Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Idaho. Other estimates: Nebraska, down 0.11 percent; Missouri, down 0.09 percent; Oklahoma, down 0.08 percent; and Colorado, down 0.06 percent.
Garden City Sen. John Doll, the Legislature's lone independent, said the trade controversy ignited by Trump had ruffled the soybean and milo markets for Kansas farmers.
He said it appeared the White House lacked understanding of potential employment and income implications of risky trade policy.
"Is it the beltway versus the midway?" he said.
Rep. Kyle Hoffman, a Coldwater Republican and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he was optimistic Trump would grasp consequences of policy damaging to farm exports to China. Trump is likely to stop short of damaging the economic welfare of a core constituency of farm voters in Kansas and elsewhere, he said.
"We don't need a trade war. I really don't believe it will go that far," Hoffman said.
The Trump administration identified 1,300 products imported from China that would be covered by the proposed tariff, while China generated a list of more than 100 categories of products that would be docked with tariffs.
According to the study, a trade conflict with China would expand U.S. manufacturing employment in some sectors, but fall in others. Gains in metals and machinery would come at the expense of agriculture, transportation equipment and services, the report said.