Steel Products Prices North America

US Apparent Steel Supply Falls Further in September

Written by Brett Linton

US apparent steel supply eased further in September, down 8% from August to 8.29 million net tons, according to data from the US Department of Commerce and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). As the lowest monthly figure since February 2021, this was a 19-month low. September supply was 10% below the average monthly rate from the past year (9.21 million tons). Recall that supply reached a six-year high of 9.92 million tons one year ago, then declined each month through February.

Apparent steel supply is determined by combining domestic steel mill shipments and finished US steel imports, then deducting total US steel exports.

September apparent supply was 1.63 million tons lower than the same month one year ago when supply was 9.92 million tons. This 16% decline was primarily due to a 945,000-ton decrease in domestic shipments and a 691,000-ton decrease in finished imports. The net trade balance between US steel imports and exports was at a surplus of 1.52 million tons imported in September, 40% less than levels one year prior. Finished steel imports accounted for 23% of supply in September, down from 26% this time last year. Figure 2 shows September trade statistics for each of the past three years.

Compared to August, when apparent supply was 8.98 million tons, September’s supply decreased by 687,000 tons. This 8% decline was primarily due to a 535,000-ton decrease in domestic shipments followed by a 229,000-ton decline in finished imports. A 77,000-ton decrease in total exports slightly lessened the overall decline. The net trade balance between imports and exports in September fell 11% from August. The percentage of apparent steel supply composed of finished steel imports remained steady at 23%. Figure 3 shows monthly statistics over the last three months.

Figure 4 shows year-to-date (YTD) monthly averages for each statistic over the last five years. The average monthly apparent supply level for the first nine months of 2022 is 9.04 million tons. This is almost identical to the same period of 2021, higher than 2020 supply, but lower than 2018 and 2019 YTD levels.

Projecting out the YTD monthly average supply level for 2022 yields an annual estimate of 108.5 million tons, 2% lower than 2021. Apparent supply for the entire year of 2021 totaled 110.3 million tons, compared to 90.3 million tons in 2020 and 109.5 million tons in 2019. In Steel Market Update’s 13-year data history, 2014 holds the annual record with a total apparent supply of 119.5 million tons.

To see an interactive graphic of our Apparent Steel Supply history, visit the Apparent Steel Supply page in the Analysis section of the SMU website. If you need any assistance logging into or navigating the website, contact us at

By Brett Linton,

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