Why Is Steel So Important to US Manufacturing?


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When steel became a major commercial construction component in the late 1800s, nobody could have predicted how big the industry would become. Industry experts once used cast iron, but it was quickly outdone by steel in fire resistance and structural soundness. Steel has a long history, and as the prices for steel companies’ stocks drop, you cannot help but wonder if this material is still important to US manufacturing.

Supporting Livelihoods

The US steel industry is one of the most prominent, which is understandably why it supports the livelihoods of almost 1 million Americans, directly and indirectly.

The US steel industry boasted projections of 110 billion US dollars in 2021, a 21% rise from 2020. And as of 2010, 100 facilities employed well over 135,000 people, and these numbers have since increased.

Leading Modernization

Looking back in history, the steel industry was also a major part of US modernization during the 19th century. Early colonizers needed to build homes and make tools to enhance farming for food.

They depended on iron tools, but steel quickly took over after the Civil War, with the industry growing significantly. By the 1900s, the US produced the most steel globally, hitting record highs of over 24 million tons.

Steel contributed to urban infrastructure and city expansion before touching on household appliances and automobiles.

Top Competitor in the Global Marketplace

Today, the steel industry remains significant to US manufacturing and supporting livelihoods. The market size for the industry has grown 4.5% per year between 2017 and 2022. Steel is also a major part of the technological takeover and shifts to automation, proving just as relevant today.

The recent decrease in growth is primarily due to competition, but the US government’s step toward supporting clean domestic production could change that.

More industries are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint in manufacturing processes as the new generations of consumers emphasize the importance of sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.

The US and EU are partnering to restrict dirty steel from entering their markets and promote clean, low-carbon domestic steel manufacturing. The US government also has plans to construct a “Buy Clean Task Force” to encourage the purchase of sustainably manufactured construction materials.

With the focus on cleaner and sustainable processes on the rise, this could be the boost the US steel industry needs to beat out competitors and continue to grow.

Image Credit: BigPixel Photo / Shutterstock.com

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