Published On: Wed, Jun 13th, 2018

Is Steel Still a Big Deal in America?

With all talk of President Trump’s notorious steel tariffs grabbing the headlines of late – even jostling for column inches with his unprecedented summit with North Korea’s equally volatile leader, Kim Jong-un in Singapore of late – we’ve turned our attentions to just where America stands today, in terms of steel production on the world stage. With POTUS seemingly throwing his weight around with regards to tariffs he’s seeking to impose on those nations he considers having being given an easy ride (when it comes to import tariffs in recent times), it’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves as to how significant we are as a steel-producing country.

America’s Rich Vein of Steel Form

Whilst there’s no denying that steel is one of the predominant foundations on which the US was built, the perceived new world order might paint an altogether different picture today. But let’s make no bones about this, as the steel industry remains a hugely important sector, despite officially being identified as the 5th largest industry (after real estate, state and local government, finance and insurance, health and social care; and of course existing under the broader umbrella of durable manufacturing). Its reach across the nation is immeasurable, with steel producing being the lifeblood of regional communities from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, to Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mississippi and Colorado. The latter state is home to Armstrong Steel, who themselves have a rich history – together with an enviable reputation far and wide – for their manufacture and construction of bespoke steel-built systems and property solutions. Firms like Armstrong Steel play a pivotal role and serve as an integral component in America’s formidable steel machine.

US Steel Production Pales in Comparison to Dominant China

But just how formidable is it, compared to its closest global rivals? Straight after the end of World War II, demand for steel was at an all-time high, routinely outstripping supply; thanks to European steel mills being targeted by enemy bombing raids. Cities needed rebuilding from the ground up in some cases, while across the Atlantic on more familiar territory demand for steel for automotive production was increasing at a rate of knots. US steel mills rose to the challenge and during the 1950s were responsible for manufacturing some 40% of the world’s steel; at its height employing 700,000 workers. As of today that figure’s dwindled to just over 80,000, with critics claiming that America failed to change with the times and lost ground to first European and Japanese competitors, and then latterly, the Chinese steel-manufacturing behemoth.

America 5th in Global Steel Production Charts

You see, when it comes to steel production on a global scale, China is in a league of its own, accounting for a staggering 49% (or 831.7 million metric tonnes) of the 1.7 billion metric tonnes of steel produced globally in 2017. Which, unsurprisingly, places it at the top of the world’s steel-manufacturing stack, (not so closely) followed by the EU (168.7), Japan (104.7), India (101.4) and then in 5th, America (81.6).

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