Perhaps the world’s leading construction material, steel is used on buildings, refrigerators, surgical scalpels, cargo ships, and cars, among other applications. You’ll find steel everywhere you turn on all manner of products. The period from the 1800s to the end of World War II was among the most unforgettable times in America. The country continued to advance its development using previously unimagined technologies. The period, popularly known as the industrial revolution, recorded major growth for all sectors. In this period, America became the world’s superpower due to its strong economic standing. Below are three major milestones of the impact of steel on America’s economy.
1. Steel In The 21st Century
Steel is one of the most important metals whose impact on the American economy will continue to be felt for much longer than we can imagine. The World Steel Association projects a 20% rise in the use of steel by 2050, meaning demand for the product will continue to register an upward climb year after year. This demand is especially buoyed by a need for new homes, which, according to Zillow, will grow by 3.5% in 2023 but marginally decrease by a few points to 3.26 in 2026.
Impressive structures are built to stand and endure the elements for decades, thanks to the tons of steel that go into erecting them. The construction sector consumes more than half of the steel manufactured in America, with 60% going toward buildings. This number is expected to continue rising as the construction sector grows.
In 2020, the U.S. produced about 72 million metric tons of steel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Electric arc furnaces took the lion’s share (70%) of that year’s steel production. These furnaces are popular for their ability to turn large amounts of scrap into liquid steel without polluting the environment.
Steel is among the friendliest metals to work with due to its eco-friendly nature. It’s also easier to recycle. Up to 80% of steel is from recycled materials, which means it hardly ends up in landfills when a building is demolished due to its ability to be reused.
2. Manufacturing Remains Hugely Popular
America comes third globally after China and India in steel production. According to Terra Staffing Group, approximately 12.5 million workers are employed within the U.S. manufacturing sector, accounting for 8.5% of the country’s workforce. This is a significant number, bearing in mind the numerous businesses within the manufacturing industry.
As a job seeker, you’ll not go wrong searching for employment in factories, factory plants, or mills. The pharmaceutical sector manufactures medicines, motor vehicle manufacturing, aerospace products, and beverage manufacture are among the top ten manufacturing sectors in the U.S.
3. Improving Steel Production
The steel industry is among the oldest, dating back to the Middle Ages, and still uses ancient methods, such as the blast furnace, to melt steel. Digitalizing the manufacturing process makes the factory staff work in a safer environment while speeding up various other manufacturing processes.
In an era where manufacturers need to be conscious of how their business activities impact the environment, a challenge that can be anticipated in the steel industry is the increased demand for low-carbon steel. In 2021, the demand was at around 15 million metric tons. This will be expected to reach more than 200 million metric tons by 2030. The reason is that low-carbon steel is easier to shape and form into different products because it has low carbon content. However, it’s not as durable as high-carbon steel.
The world is keen on using fossil fuels, including steel manufacture. Some companies already claim to produce fossil-free steel, a nice marketing tag. After over five years of resilience, the steel industry is well-placed to use new digital ideas to continue providing winning business outcomes. It will continue powering architectural masterpieces defying the elements to remain standing for centuries. And the beauty of all this is that this hardy construction material is renewable and recyclable into other products since it can be melted and re-purposed.
Steel’s Influence on International Trade and Commerce.
The global reach of the steel industry has fundamentally transformed international trade and commerce. Steel’s versatility and indispensability in various sectors have made it one of the most traded commodities globally.
Countries with abundant steel production have become major exporters. These are supplying steel to meet the demand of nations with limited capacity or specialized needs. This intricate web of trade flows has created a highly interconnected global market for steel. All this is fostering economic interdependence among countries.
Steel exports play a pivotal role in boosting the economies of exporting nations. By generating substantial revenue from international sales, these countries experience enhanced economic growth, increased job opportunities, and improved living standards for their citizens.
Moreover, the revenue earned from steel exports often becomes a crucial source of foreign exchangeto stabilize national currencies and balance trade deficits. The global reach of the steel industry has far-reaching effects on international trade and commerce. From infrastructure development to manufacturing and industrial output, steel’s influence is pervasive in diverse sectors.
Future Horizons – The Role of Steel in the American Economy
The future role of steel in the American economy holds immense significance as the industry grapples with evolving challenges and opportunities. While technological advancements bring opportunities, they also raise questions about the industry’s workforce.
As automation and digitalization become more prevalent, the steel industry will undergo workforce transformations. Upskilling and reskilling initiatives will be essential to equip workers with the necessary skills to operate and maintain advanced manufacturing technologies effectively.
To remain resilient and adaptable, the steel industry must proactively address global challenges and disruptions.
The industry’s commitment to cleaner production methods, circular economy practices, and responsible resource management will be instrumental in addressing environmental concerns. Moreover, investments in material science and research will unlock new possibilities for steel usage in emerging industries.
By navigating trade dynamics, investing in workforce development, and fostering adaptability, the steel industry can maintain its integral position in the American economy.