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Steel Imports by the Numbers

By Jelani Rucker
on March 26, 2018

Those outside the American steel industry might not know much about the impact of steel imports on our economy. A few years ago, people might have heard about the closing of mills such as U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works in Granite City, Illinois, or AK Steel’s Ashland Works in Ashland, Kentucky. But they might not know the numbers behind the news, including:

  • 219% increase in steel imports since Q2 2009
  • 133% increase in imports of steel pipe and tube from 2016 to 2017
  • 12% decrease in domestic steel shipments from 2014 to 2015
  • 12,000 jobs lost in the American steel industry in 2015 alone

Even as the American economy rebounded from the last recession, the steel industry continued to struggle because of imports. According to the International Trade Administration’s December 2017 Global Steel Trade Monitor, the U.S. imported 26.9 million metric tons of steel from September 2016 to September 2017 — an increase from 22.5 million metric tons in year-to-date 2016. And in 2017 overall, imports comprised 32.6% of the 106.2 million metric tons of steel consumed in America.

We are the world’s top importer of steel, by far — not because we can’t produce enough of our own steel, but because other countries produce too much and dump it here at below-market rates. Domestic producers and their employees can compete with any companies under “fair trade” conditions. However, they struggle to compete with companies that are given an unfair advantage through their subsidies, local regulations, and currency practices, and they shouldn’t have to.

The new steel tariff is a step to level the playing field. American steelworkers hope to see a big change in the numbers of the past. Stay tuned — it’s coming soon!