>> President Donald Trump's growing trade war with China has been billed as a way to restore American jobs lost to Asia.>> If that takes tariffs, let it take tariffs, okay? Maybe it'll cost a little bit more, but we'll have jobs.>> But here in Thomasville, North Carolina, a town once teeming with furniture makers, Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods are being met with a shrug, not a cheer.
That's because the factories that once dominated Thomasville aren't just sitting idle, they've disappeared. Howard Schneider went there to get the story.>> There were three plants in Thomasville proper in its heyday, okay? One of them has been toned down, now a park, one them is under consideration as a new police station.
And the third is being converted to an apartment building. So it's not as if you're gonna be able to flip a switch and say, all right, all the stuff we import, we're now gonna make here.>> Trump slapped import taxes on $200 billion of goods from China, including furniture.
Beijing retaliating with its own tariffs on US products. But Thomasville shows why many economists are skeptical that Trump will bring back thousands of jobs.>> I did not find a person who said this will trigger a revival in American wood furniture manufacturing. What they'll tell you there is that the wood furniture that can be easily made by the boatload, that's all being done in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, places like that.
The things require a little more care in the finishing upholstery goods, that's still done here. These two things don't necessarily swap out easily for each other.>> Bernhardt Furniture in nearby Lenoir serves the high end of the market. Alex Bernhardt is CEO.>> To go back and sort the most labor intensive furniture manufacturing, I think it would be very hard to find people who are willing to do that type of work these days.
>> Schneider says some officials here fear the tariffs will have a negative affect as they push up consumer prices.>> The concern down there is, you raise prices on all furniture, it's not gonna bring the wood furniture back here and it's just gonna disrupt the market.>> And the uncertainty around tariffs makes executives wary about rolling the dice on new plans.
Despite those concerns, Trump is forging ahead. The 10% tariff slapped on goods from China will rise to 25% at the end of 2018.