Steel Industry Overview

Essay by DANIMAL69University, Bachelor'sA+, August 2005

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Steel Industry Overview


From the late 19th century until the years following World War II (W.W. II), the United States (U.S.) steel industry was the largest in the world, at times manufacturing over half of the world production of metal. After W.W. II, however, both Europe and Japan rebuilt their steel plants from the ground up, replacing old furnaces with newer equipment, efficient technologies, and operating their industries, often with the help form the respective governments. Eventually, other newly industrialized countries (Brazil, China, and South Korea) built their own industries combining low wages with low priced steel in every market, to include the U.S.


The U.S. steel industry is a $60 billion enterprise. There are more than 800 firms operating in all but a few states. The absolute number of integrated mills (producing steel in basic oxygen furnaces) has always been relatively small and is currently about 20.

The industry employs over 189,000 people nationwide. The steel industry (including iron production) is one of the largest energy consumers in the manufacturing sector and has invested more than eight billion in environmental controls.

Recessions in the 1970's and 1980's decreased the growth in the world steel demand. In the U.S., the expansion of the scrap based mini mill side of the industry increased the pressure of the old-line integrated mills. U.S. capacity was reduced from a peak of an annual 160 million tons to 115 million tons in the early 1990's. Unemployment from the steel industry itself was at 30.3% due to capacity reductions.

The steel industry today is vital to both economic competitiveness and national security. Steel is the backbone of bridges, skyscrapers, railroads, automobiles, and appliances. Most grades of steel in use today, particularly high strength steels that are lighter and more versatile

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