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Steel & Other Primary Metals

We next consider job losses in primary metal manufacturing, including steel, aluminum, and other primary metal products.  Here we find the steel and other primary metal products that are the fundamental building blocks of an industrial economy:  steel ingots and shapes, hot and cold rolled sheet, bars and wire, and pipes and tubes; aluminum ingots, plate, sheet, strip, rods, bars, wire, foil, and extruded shapes; copper, zinc, nickel, titanium, and other nonferrous metals and products; and die-casting and other foundry products from primary metals.

Manufacturing facilities in this subsector, which employed 692,500 workers in July of 1990, employed an average 397,380 in 2014.  The following figure and table illustrate those job losses:  


After a dip following the 1990-91 recession, we see a modest increase, then a decline through the economic expansion of the 1990s, to 622,042 jobs in 2000.  Following is a precipitous decline beginning after 2000, coincident with the 2001 recession and the granting of permanent most favored nation status and WTO membership to China.  Declining less rapidly during 2003 through 2007, job losses accelerate again through the Great Recession, bottoming out at about 362,000 jobs in 2009-2010, for a loss of some 397,000 jobs since 1990.  Since the low of 2009, employment has seen a recovery of 38,450 (12%) of the lost jobs, to an average of 385,575 jobs in 2014.

Key Finding:

Between 2000 and 2014, the industries in the primary metal manufacturing subsector[i] shed nearly half of their jobs: a 43% decline in employment, nearly 300,000 jobs.


GO TO Appliances and Electrical Equipment.


[i] Industries in the Primary Metal Manufacturing subsector smelt and/or refine ferrous and nonferrous metals from ore, pig or scrap, using electrometallurgical and other process metallurgical techniques. Establishments in this subsector also manufacture metal alloys and superalloys by introducing other chemical elements to pure metals. The output of smelting and refining, usually in ingot form, is used in rolling, drawing, and extruding operations to make sheet, strip, bar, rod, or wire, and in molten form to make castings and other basic metal products.  The primary metal manufacturing subsector consists of these industry groups: Iron and Steel Mills and Ferroalloy Manufacturing (NAICS 3311); Steel Product Manufacturing from Purchased Steel (NAICS 3312); Alumina and Aluminum Production and Processing (NAICS 3313); Non-ferrous Metal (except Aluminum) Production and Processing (NAICS 3314); and Foundries (NAICS 3315).  [North American Industry Classification System, published at]

News and Events

May 15, 2014, Ontario, CA - MIAA's founder, Jim Stuber, delivered the keynote address at the 20th annual World Trade Conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the California Inland Empire District Export Council in Ontario, California.  To view the conference agenda, click here:

New file download

May 7, 2015, Radnor, PA.  MIAA's founder, Jim Stuber, appeared as the guest of host Richard J. Anthony, Sr. on The Entrepreneur's Network TV at Radnor Studio 21.  The program featured a discussion of the problems caused by offshoring manufacturing and white collar jobs and how consmers can solve the problem with their spending decisions. 

Studio 21 has made the program available for viewing here:

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