Dog owners in Madison, Wisconsin, are about to be the latest American consumers to feel the squeeze from Trump's tariffs

  • President Donald Trump’s tariffs are starting to hit average American consumers.
  • The latest example: a cost increase for aluminium dog tags in Dane County, Wisconsin.
  • The county had to pay $US2,200 for dog tags this year, up 46% from last year.

Small businesses around the US are beginning to sound the alarm on the costs of President Donald Trump’s trade fights.

The latest consumers to feel a squeeze: the dog-owning population of a county in Wisconsin.

According to WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, the price of aluminium dog tags Dane County issued to pet owners after animal registration jumped 46% from last year, to $US2,200 from $US1,500, because of Trump’s tariffs on imported aluminium.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell told the news outlet that the county’s original provider requested $US4,000 for the tags before the county found another provider able to offer a lower price – though still well above the previous year’s cost.

“It’s one of the many ways you’ll see little price increases all over the place from these tariffs,” McDonell, a Democrat, told WISC-TV.

Economists have warned that while Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminium, and some Chinese goods mostly avoided hitting consumer goods directly, businesses that rely on these imports to produce final goods could eventually pass those costs on to average consumers.

McDonell said that the $US15 fee in Madison to register a dog or cat that has been spayed or neutered (or $US20 if the pet has not been) would increase only slightly but that he was worried about bigger items like new cars for the police department.

More than Wisconsin dog tags

Trump’s tariffs are causing price increases for more than just dog tags in Wisconsin. Major corporations have warned that the tariffs will soon force consumers to pay higher prices at the register.

Coca-Cola, MillerCoors, and Samuel Adams have said the tariffs will push up the cost of their beverages. Newell Brands, the maker of home goods like the Crock-Pot, said the tariffs could cost the company $US100 million annually, and CEO Michael Polk indicated consumers could bear some of that cost.

“I think it’s too early to know exactly how much of the pricing will land, but we’re not going to hesitate to take the price up,” he said during a recent quarterly earnings call.

Broad economic data has also reflected the increase in prices. The latest consumer price index showed that prices for major appliances were up 2% in July from the month before and 8.5% from July 2017. That compares with a 2.9% year-over-year increase for the broader index.

Tiffany Wilding, a US economist at Pimco, said the increase might have a lot to do with Trump’s trade crackdown.

“This may reflect the rising input costs of industrial metals … but producers could also be accelerating price hikes ahead of implementation of US tariffs on Chinese imports of appliances and related parts,” Wilding said.

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