18 Steel Fabrication Industry Statistics and Trends

The global metal fabrication market was valued at USD $16.35 billion in 2015. It is expected to grow at a rate of 3% annually, reaching USD $21.38 billion by 2024. Steel fabrication is a segment of the overall metal fabrication industry. In the United States, fabricated metals are the third-largest manufacturing industry when measured by total employment.

Please note: industry statistics for steel fabrication are often included in the generalized metal fabrication industry data. This information is not regularly updated by reporting sources, with 2013 being the last reporting year for some data.

Important Steel Fabrication Industry Statistics

#1. In the fabricated structural metal manufacturing industry, total revenues average $33 billion per year. For the 5-year period ending in 2017, the industry grew at an annualized compound rate of 2.8%. (IBIS World)

#2. About 3,000 firms are currently engaged in fabricated structural metal manufacturing in the United States. This provides employment opportunities for about 95,000 people. (IBIS World)

#3. Fabricated metal product manufacturing is an industry sector with a total value of $6.17 trillion. More than 12 million people are employed in this area within the United States. (IBIS World)

#4. More than $2.1 trillion in metal product manufacturing imports occurs every year in the United States. About $1.2 trillion in exports occurs as well. Imports from 2013-2018 were up 0.8%, while exports during the same period were down 0.9%. (IBIS World)

#5. 12% of the manufacturing employment opportunities found in the United States involve steel fabrication or generalized metal fabrication. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#6. 65% of the value added to the metal fabrication industry in 2013 came from compensation offered to employees. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#7. Machine shops in the United States are responsible for $40 billion in shipments for fabricated metal products. Fabricated structural metals are responsible for $27.5 billion in shipments. They are followed by sheet metal works ($20.3 billion), precision turned products ($18.3 billion), and all other miscellaneous fabricated metal products ($14.8 billion). (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#8. The top 4 industries account for 31% of the fabricated metal product manufacturing which occurs in the United States each year. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#9. Consumers purchase 51% of the products which are available through the steel fabrication industry. Businesses purchase 43% of the fabricated products which are available. The U.S. government is responsible for the remaining sales. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#10. Electroplating holds the largest share of value added as a percentage of shipments at 66%. It is followed by machine shops at 65%, turned products at 63%, and industrial valves at 58%. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#11. The lowest share of value added as a percentage of shipments is found in the metal cans segment, with a 31% share. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#12. The most common type of employment found within the industry is production work, responsible for 61% of the active positions. Metal and plastic workers make up 38% of the industry, which is included in the production work category. Fabricators make up just 9% of positions in the steel fabrication industry. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#13. Just 8 states in the U.S. are responsible for 52% of the total output of fabricated metal products. These same states are also responsible for 47% of total U.S. manufacturing each year. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#14. Texas is the U.S. leader in metal fabrication, responsible for 9% of total industry shipments, valued at $33 billion. Ohio came in second, providing $28.8 billion in shipments. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#15. In total employment, California is the national leader in the U.S., responsible for 9% of the total jobs found in the fabricated metals industry. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#16. Only two segments of the fabricated metals industry experienced a trade surplus in 2014: boilers tanks, and shipping containers; and crowns, closures, and seals. Both surpluses were less than $1 billion. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#17. Cutlery and hand tools saw the largest deficits in trade in 2014, at more than $5 billion. Metal valves, hardware, and miscellaneous fabricated products experienced a deficit of more than $4 billion each. (U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration)

#18. The global metal fabrication market is valued at $16.35 billion, with a 10-year annual growth rate of 3% expected. By 2024, the value of the market could top $21 billion for the first time. (EVS Metal)

Steel Fabrication Industry Trends and Analysis

Steel fabrication is an important component of most modern economies. When included with overall metal manufacturing, it is one of the largest industries in the world. The success or failure of this industry often directs the success or failure of individual economies.

That is why the threat of steel tariffs creates uncertainty in multiple markets. It creates blockbuster profits for manufacturers, while encouraging higher costs at the purchasing point. In 2018, Reliance Steel and Aluminum experienced record sales because there was an 18% spike in product pricing.

At the same time, companies like General Electric, 3M, and Harley-Davidson all saw reduced profits in 2018 because of the higher price of steel, thanks to a Trump Administration 25% steel tariff. Between January 1 and July 30, 2018, U.S.-made steel prices climbed 41%, reaching $917 per short ton.

Trade imbalances do need to be corrected for the health of the steel fabrication industry. Running large deficits is not a recipe for economic growth. Forcing consumers to pay higher prices for domestic steel may not be the correct answer either. Fixed pricing contracts and other industry standards do place limits on the effect of tariffs and climbing prices, but only temporarily.

For now, the steel industry plans to thrive, expand, and create new opportunities. It is the small business owner who is going to be hurt from this process.