Trump's proposal of a tariff on Chinese goods would hurt his blue-collar supporters the most

Prices rising for consumers

If you shop at Wal-Mart, you’re getting a lot of cheap goods from China. Critics of China’s trade policy argue that the company’s imports—an estimated $49 billion in 2013—cost the US 400,000 jobs over a twelve years, though they rely on labor cost estimates from 2001 which may inflate that figure. (For perspective, the US created 2.9 million jobs in 2015). But imagine if Wal-Mart suddenly had to pay an extra 45% on its imported goods: The company would have to raise prices and look for new cheaper sources of goods. But it wouldn’t go looking in the US, where labor costs are high—it would more likely opt for low-cost labor markets like Vietnam.

Not that many new jobs

We have a natural experiment about the effect of Chinese tariffs. In 2009, the US slapped China with a tariff of 35% on tires after the World Trade Organization ruled that China was overwhelming US tire manufacturers with an influx of subsidized imports. After tariffs went up, economists looked at the results (pdf), and found that while the US added 1,200 jobs, it cost US consumers $1.1 billion to purchase more expensive tires, for a cost per job of $900,000—little of which actually went to the workers themselves. China also retaliated by increasing duties on US chicken imports, which cost US exporters about $1 billion, and leading us to our next consequence: