According to the AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute), the U.S. steel industry is a $50 billion enterprise, with additional downstream processing pushing this value closer to $75 billion. The industry employs approximately 154,000 people nationwide. There are more than 1,200 firms operating in all but a few states, although the number of integrated mills (producing steel in basic oxygen furnaces) has always been relatively small and currently numbers around 20.
The number of steel products is very high and distributors typically specialize in the types of steel they carry. A large distributor—which typically has sales of $50 million—may handle as many as 85,000 different products, according to First Research. According to Gale Group, nearly 90 percent of the 975 North American centers listed by Purchasing magazine have annual sales under $100 million.