The Steel Industry and Its Importance

The steel industry is an integral part of the world economy. It keeps several industries vital to modern society sustainable. It is a necessary ingredient in construction, manufacturing and transportation industries. It has a profound influence on larger communities as well. It is not only a crucial economic driver but also an environmental leader.

With a history spanning thousands of years, steel has evolved from simple small-batch production to the advanced materials that are the foundation of our modern economy. The second Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century introduced new processes, including the Bessemer process that enabled mass steel production. By the end of this period a handful of firms led by U.S. Steel dominated the industry.

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Technological advances throughout the 20th century improved productivity and reduced costs. Increased demand for steel worldwide was spurred by post-World War II reconstruction of devastated countries in Europe and Japan that had to rebuild their factories but did not have the capacity to produce the amount needed.

During periods of robust economic growth steel unions secured high wages that guaranteed working-class members middle-class living standards. However, during cyclical downturns technological obsolescence and excess global capacity forced steel companies to cut wages and prices in order to maintain profit margins. This led to the use of temporary price controls such as voluntary restraint agreements during the 1960s and trigger prices during the Kennedy, Carter, and Reagan administrations. These policies merely deferred restructuring and slowed the pace of job losses but did not prevent them from occurring.


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