Earnings in the steel industry vary by type of production and occupation but are higher than average earnings in private industry. Average weekly earnings of nonsupervisory production workers in 2002 were $968 in iron and steel mills, and $687 in establishments making steel products from purchased steel, compared with $619 in all manufacturing and $506 throughout private industry.
Union membership, geographic location, and plant size affect earnings and benefits of workers. In most firms, earnings or bonuses are linked to output. Workers receive standard benefits, including health insurance, paid vacation, and pension plans.
The iron and steel industry traditionally has been highly unionized. In 2002, 37 percent of workers in steel manufacturing were members of unions or covered by union contracts, compared with 16 percent in manufacturing and 15 percent in all industries. In some instances, companies are closed shops-that is, workers must belong to the union in order to work there. EAFs, though, typically are nonunion. The overall decline of employment in traditional integrated steel mills, together with the growth of EAFs, have caused union membership to decline in recent years.