As a second winter without a paycheck approaches, many laid-off workers at the U.S. Steel mill in Granite City, Ill., are struggling to find work as unemployment benefits run low. Granite City, an old-economy town on the outskirts of St. Louis that still lives by making things, is worrying with those workers.
Prior to the shutdown, the mill provided a $64,000-a-year ticket to the middle class for people who never went past high school. Now, laid-off workers say, it’s much more difficult to make ends meet with only a high school degree.
When announcing the layoffs last year, U.S. Steel complained of a flood of low-price steel imports from Asia. The Commerce Department in May ruled that China, other Asian nations and Italy were dumping steel at unfair prices, and imposed countervailing charges.
U.S. Steel maintains that the partial shutdown of the mill is temporary. Nearly 500 people are still at work finishing steel made elsewhere. The big steel-making furnaces will start up again when orders return, the company says, although U.S. Steel hasn’t hinted at when that might be.
The iffy nature of the situation is making it harder for steelworkers to find new jobs, workers say. Employers think they will quit when the mill reopens.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch