The last time President Donald Trump was a candidate in 2016, he won over Rust Belt states on the back of pledges to revive American factories. But two years into his term, his reelection campaign could struggle to maintain that support.
Manufacturing plunged deeper into a recession in September, with a key gauge of factory activity dropping to its lowest level since the global financial crisis in 2009. The dip to 47.8 on the Institute for Supply Management index marked the second straight month of contraction in the sector.
Trump quickly sought to shift blame onto the Federal Reserve, though the data suggested his tariff disputes were behind the weakness. While US manufacturing has faced separate challenges, including a broader slowdown abroad, economists said a drop in demand for new orders showed how the sector has been directly affected by trade policy.