Precision Metalforming Association - Steel Imports Increase in May

Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) President William E. Gaskin called May's steel import picture a potential signal of strength underlying a still hesitant economic recovery for the U.S. manufacturing sector.  According to preliminary data issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, total steel imports in May edged up 6% over the previous month's levels.  The results marked the third month in a row that import totals hit levels that had not been seen since the pre-recessionary days of October 2008.   

Preliminary import totals for May rose to 2,442,081 metric tons, up from April's total of 2,312,442 metric tons.  Imports of hot-rolled steel – the product most sought after by metalforming manufacturers – remained nearly the same as levels in April, edging up slightly to 227,331 metric tons in May from the previous month's 226,596 metric tons.  May's cold-rolled steel imports continued the downward trend of the last two months since reaching a four-year high in March; totals for May fell to 97,023 metric tons from 116,227 metric tons in April.

"The overall economic picture for U.S. manufacturing remains somewhat encouraging," said Gaskin. "While metalformers and other small manufacturers are cautious about overall market conditions, the higher import totals suggest that demand in the U.S. market for steel products is resilient.  It is also important to note that, while May hot-rolled figures are flat compared to the previous month, they are at levels last seen in September 2008, mirroring the trend of increased overall steel imports."

"In order for the recovery of the manufacturing sector to move forward, it is essential that small manufacturers see two fundamental structural challenges addressed in the near future," continued Gaskin. "First, skilled workers are needed to fill today's manufacturing jobs, which much too often remain unfilled despite the nation's high unemployment rate.  Second, when major tax reform is undertaken in Washington, it must be handled in a way that ensures that the many small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies structured as S-Corps are not inadvertently harmed."

PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $113-billion metalforming industry of North America—the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes. Its nearly 1,000 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry.  PMA leads innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability through advocacy, networking, statistics, the PMA Educational Foundation, METALFORM tradeshows and MetalForming magazine.

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