President Donald Trump recently announced his intent to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. In this six-part article, we are analyzing the potential impact this announcement may have on the construction industry. In the last section, we discussed specific details pertaining to the tariff. In this section, we will focus on the fascinating history of steel manufacturing in America. As Bradenton construction lawyers, we know that it’s important to understand steel’s place in the history of America to better understand how it may impact the future of the construction industry. If you are in need of a Bradenton construction lawyer, please give us a call today.
The Rise of Steel Production and Construction in America
Although the material properties of iron and steel date back thousands of years and were even utilized by Roman soldiers for armor and weaponry, the process of creating massive amounts of steel at a cost-effective price was revolutionized in the mid-1800s by Henry Bessemer. The Bessemer Process of producing cheap steel by open hearth furnace streamlined steel production in America by the 1880s. The construction industry was, of course, an integral part of this industry boom erecting the skyscrapers of America’s largest cities like New York and Chicago. By 1945, the United States produced well over half of the world’s steel and continued to be an integral part of steel production until the early 1970’s.
The Decline of Steel Production in America
From the early 1970s to the early 1980s, steel production declined by nearly 50 percent.
This downward trend continued gradually into the modern day. In fact, from 1945 to today, there are approximately 80 percent less American workers in the steel industry with many of the once prominent steel producers having declared bankruptcy. Some believe that this tariff may revitalize the “steel crisis” that’s existed in the United States for several decades.
What Caused the Downturn of Steel Production?
It’s often debated how United States steel production dropped off so quickly. The main theory for this sudden decline is because foreign imports are available at a much more cost-effective price. Other theories include labor costs for US workers being too high, environmental concerns with the process, restrictive taxes, and innovation in manufacturing methods resulting in less of a labor demand.
As we continue this six-part series, in the next section we will discuss how this steel and aluminum tariff could increase the national production of steel, but come with several drawbacks. In section four, five and six, we will discuss the direct impact this tariff may have on the construction industry.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.