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Import/Export Price Indexes

Recent Price Trends in the Metal Industry

An overview of Primary Metal Manufacturing price indexes


Metal cogs

U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes contain data on changes in the prices of nonmilitary goods and services traded between the United States and the world. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics produces these indexes, which are Principal Federal Economic Indicators.

Q: How have import metal prices trended over the 2020–2022 period? (See chart 1)

  • Primary metal manufacturing import prices increased 51.1 percent from December 2019 to December 2022. The index increased 20.9 percent in 2020 before rising an additional 24.0 percent in 2021. The import price index for primary metal manufacturing advanced 0.8 percent in 2022.
  • The 24.0-pecent rise in import prices for primary metal manufacturing in 2021 was the largest calendar-year increase since 12-month changes for the index were first published in December 2006.
  • Increasing prices for alumina and aluminum production led to the rise of import prices for primary metal manufacturing in 2021 and into the first quarter of 2022.

Q: How did import metal prices compare with other economic data? (See chart 1)

  • Import primary metal manufacturing prices trended similarly to producer and export prices in 2020. This trend continued throughout 2021, although producer prices increased at a higher rate compared to import and export prices. Even though all price indexes rose throughout the 3-year period, in 2022, export and producer prices fell in contrast to import prices which advanced.
  • The primary metal manufacturing producer price index advanced 48.1 percent over the 3-year period ended December 2022. The index increased 5.2 percent in 2020, rose 67.0 percent in 2021, and decreased 15.7 percent in 2022.

Q: How have export metal prices trended over the 2020–2022 period? (See chart 1)

  • Export primary metals prices increased 37.3 percent from December 2019 to December 2022. Prices for export primary metals increased 17.9 percent in 2020, 18.0 percent in 2021, and declined 1.3 percent in 2022.
  • The 1.3-percent decline in 2022 was largely driven by decreases in the second half of the year. The export price index rose 12.0 percent from December 2021 to April 2022, then declined 11.9 percent from April 2022 to December 2022.

Q: What are the top six exporting states and territories for metal manufacturing? (See chart 2)

  • In 2022, the total trade value of exported primary metals was $88.6 billion, a 15.3 percent rise from 2021. The top 6 exporting states accounted for 65.8 percent of this value.
  • New York ranked first among U.S. states and territories with $29.3 billion in export trade value. That accounted for 33.0 percent of total U.S. primary metal manufacturing exports.
  • New Jersey and Utah ranked second and third with $8.1 billion and $7.3 billion in trade dollar value, respectively. The two states accounted for 9.2 and 8.2 percent of total U.S. primary metal manufacturing exports, respectively.

Q: How are import and export price indexes useful to you?

Import and export price indexes can provide a new perspective for your trade analyses. Although many sources report domestic market prices and trade volume, IPP data are unique in measuring import and export price movement.

For example, if you are involved in the metal industry and are considering conducting business overseas, IPP primary metal manufacturing indexes can supplement your industry research by providing long-term import and export price trends.

Q: How are import and export price indexes used?

Import and export price indexes are used for a variety of purposes:

  • In the conversion of U.S. trade figures from current dollars to constant dollars in U.S. trade statistics including the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Quarterly Gross Domestic Product and the Census Bureau’s monthly U.S. trade statistics.
  • To assess the impact of international trade on domestic inflation and the competitive position of the United States.
  • As a tool for analyzing fiscal and monetary policy, measuring the impact of exchange rates, and escalating trade contracts.
  • To identify industry-specific and global price trends.

Last Modified Date: July 12, 2023