International Trade:

The Health of the U.S. Steel Industry

NSIAD-89-193: Published: Jul 12, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1989.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the U.S. steel industry's health and factors affecting it, focusing on import quotas.

GAO found that: (1) the U.S. steel industry and steel consumption have declined steadily and substantially over the past 40 years; (2) most of the problems are concentrated in the integrated-mill sector, which produces steel from iron ore, while smaller operations producing new steel products from recycled steel have grown over the past 30 years; (3) industry profitability is extremely sensitive to labor costs, giving low-wage countries a competitive advantage and making the industry dependent on productivity increases; (4) although average hourly wages declined after 1982, they were still 38 percent higher than average U.S. manufacturing wages; (5) the industry's labor productivity grew slowly relative to other U.S. industries, it was slow to implement new technologies, and it invested little in research and development; (6) a severe recession in 1981 caused drastic declines in production and employment, and as the industry began to recover, imports began to surge, reaching a 1984 high of 26.1 percent and declining steadily thereafter; (7) the administration initiated a successful trade quota program to reduce the import surge; (8) the industry recovered to normal profit levels as a result of the economy's recovery and the declining proportion of imports; (9) recovery in production was significant but incomplete, and there was almost no recovery in employment; and (10) further recovery in production and employment was unlikely because of reduced capacity and improvements in labor productivity.

Oct 19, 2017

Oct 12, 2017

Oct 4, 2017

Sep 28, 2017

Sep 19, 2017

Sep 13, 2017

Sep 7, 2017

  • international icon: Art Explosion

    Diplomatic Security:

    Key Oversight Issues
    GAO-17-681SP: Published: Sep 7, 2017. Publicly Released: Sep 7, 2017.

Sep 5, 2017

Aug 29, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here