President Donald Trump argues that he’s getting tough on China’s trade practices to keep domestic manufacturers from dying. One hole in that argument: American factories are coming back to life on their own.

Industry Week reported that U.S. manufacturers added 22,000 jobs in March, a Labor Department report showed Friday, making the six-month hiring spree the strongest since 1998.

A total of 12.6 million people are employed in the sector, the most since 2008.

 Steady hiring during this economic expansion has accelerated since Trump’s November 2016 election as businesses grew increasingly optimistic and global growth improved.

Trump’s tariffs may threaten that trajectory. His administration proposed tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese products and is reviewing an additional $100 billion, on items from steel to factory goods, parts, and chemicals — items U.S. companies need to buy to make things. A separate tax on imported steel and aluminum from some suppliers, which took effect in March, means some producers are already paying up.

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