Without steel, our buildings would be like flimsy paper, and our bridges, roads, and tunnels would collapse because of their weight. Steel service centers are an integral part of our economy both for the manufacture of their important product and also for the number of jobs they create. They offer a large inventory of new, surplus, and used structural steel and stainless and alloy metal to be later turned into crucial products for use in commercial, residential, and industrial steel projects. Following are just some of the reasons why our steel should be manufactured right here in the United States.
Beginning with the original skyscrapers in Chicago and New York, United States-made fabricated structural steel has been a large support of many businesses, workers, and economy of the nation. Unfortunately, an influx of foreign steel from Mexico, China, and Canada has caused United States’ fabricators to lose almost $4 billion in sales as the imports have almost tripled since 2010. Over one million tons of fabricated structural steel were imported into the U.S. in 2018 alone.
That can cause the decimation of hard-working American workers with tens of thousands of jobs being risked, billions of dollars of domestic investment being lost, and resulting in handing over our nation’s critical infrastructure to those foreign fabricators, which is especially questionable if their fabricated steel is of cheap quality.
Over a dozen mills throughout the United States produce almost 3.5 million tons of structural shapes and plates for more than 8,000 projects annually. That provides 115,000 direct jobs and hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs. Also, there are over 1,000 AISC fabrication shops across the nation with the vast majority being family businesses.
The amount of 98% of all American structural steel is captured at the end of its original life and is then recycled into new steel products. The average recycled content in domestic steel is more than 90%, which makes it the highest of any framing material for buildings.
A steel-framed five-story office building will use 500 tons, which is equivalent to 79 tons of industrial scrap, 65 tons of curbside recycling, 122 old appliances, and 360 shredded automobiles! Steel is the leading structural framing material for buildings, having a 46% market share in 2017 for multi-story residential and non-residential construction. The market share for reinforced concrete, the closest competing material, is only 34%.
Steel is still a precious and necessary material that people in the US use and manufacture. If we want to promote the economic health of our country, however, it is important that we buy as much from inside the US as possible before seeking other options.