When you take a moment to think of just how much is built using metal, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the metal fabrication market is an industry on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is currently in the midst of healthy growth -- it’s projected to grow by 9% from 2016 to 2026. That’s a projected 12,000 additional jobs to the sector over this decade. We’ll get into some other sheet metal stats in this post, as well as provide some trends that are fueling this growth.
Here’s a closer look at the present and future of the metal fabrication market:
Sheet Metal Stats
Check out these largely promising sheet metal fabrication statistics for 2018 and beyond:
Jobs & Pay
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently about 140,000 total jobs in sheet metal. While the average pay is about $48,000 per year (or more than $23 per hour), the highest 10% of sheet metal workers earn more than $87,000 annually (as of 2017).
Sheet Metal Industry Growth
Globally, the sheet metal market is expanding at a continuous average growth rate of 4.09%. This growth is projected from 2018 to 2022, per Report Linker.
A good economy is good for the metal fabrication market. Though the sheet metal market tends to struggle in times of economic uncertainty, it thrives when the U.S. economy is good and the construction sector is healthy. The economy has been on the upswing for the last few years, and sheet metal currently accounts for about $30 billion in revenue.
How important is metal fabrication to today’s quality and durability standards? It’s nearly everywhere.
Some sort of metal fabrication accounts for more than 50% of all products we use and amenities we enjoy daily:
Military and defense
Road signs and rails
Sheet Metal Trends to Watch
Sheet metal is right in the middle of a lot of hot topics right now -- tariffs, robotics, sustainability, and so on.
Here are a few trends to keep an eye on:
Rather than source materials or services internationally, many sheet metal fabricators are bringing manufacturing back domestically or sourcing materials from regional – rather than international – companies. This is only likely to continue to trend, notably because metal is among the Chinese imports currently marked for tariffs by the U.S. Though the tariff tax is 10% now, it’s expected to go up to 25% by 2019 if a new trade agreement with China doesn’t happen.
Sheet metal fabrication workers are increasingly getting helping hands from robotics, improving quality and consistency. Not only can laser cutting and other fabrication techniques be more precise, they also come with faster lead times and less material waste -- thanks to robots!
There’s a lot of value in scrap metal. You can recycle it without even altering its properties.
Currently, about 40% of steel production across the globe is made with recycled metal. This is a trend that only looks to increase in years to come as those in the industry focus more on:
Raw material costs
The Industry Is Doing Just Fine
People are quick to bury manufacturing these days, but sheet metal fabrication is going nowhere.
While there are variables at play -- China tariffs, the economy, etc. -- the need for electrical enclosures, subway train panels, and marine-ready shipboard furniture will remain. And us metal manufacturing companies in the Rust Belt will still be here to fulfill those needs!