Trump's tariffs are starting to hit US consumers where it hurts

  • President Donald Trump's tariffs are starting to hit average American consumers.
  • The latest example: a cost increase for aluminum dog tags in Dane County, Wisconsin.
  • The county had to pay $2,200 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 to feel a squeeze: the dog-owning population of one county in Wisconsin.

According to WISC in Madison, Wisconsin, the price of aluminum dog tags Dane County, Wisconsin, issued to pet owners after animal registration jumped 46% from last year, to $2,200 from $1,500, due to Trump's tariffs on imported aluminum.

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell told WISC that the county's original provider requested $4,000 for the tags before the county found another provider that was able to offer a lower price — though still well above the previous year's cost.

RELATED: Chinese goods that will be hit by Trump's tariffs 

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"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.

Economists have warned that while Trump's tariffs on steel, aluminum, 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.

According to the report, the $15 fee to register a dog or cat that has been spayed or neutered will increase only slightly. (It's currently $20 if the pet is not spayed or neutered.) McDonell said that while the price increase was relatively small, he was worried about bigger items like new cars for the police department.

More than Wisconsin dog tags

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

Coca-Cola, Miller-Coors, and Sam Adams all warned that 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 $100 million annually. Michael Polk, the company's CEO, said 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 quarterly earnings call.

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

Tiffany Wilding, a US economists at Pimco, said the increase may 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 wrote.

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