As in all other advanced Western economies, the Italian industrial sector is declining, decreasing the level of employment in industry and affecting the sector's contribution to the GDP. Industry employed 32.6 percent of the workforce in 1999, while contributing 30.4 percent to the GDP in 2000. However, manufacturing was the key to Italy's post-World War II economic boom and remains important. The steel industry in particular allowed the country to become one of the strongest economies in the world. All branches of the industrial sector grew very quickly, and Italian exports soared. Then, in the second half of the 1980s, the industrial sector went though a crisis, while the service sector expanded. With the onset of the second millennium, the loss of jobs in the industrial sector seems to have stabilized, and although facing tough international competition, Italian companies appear ready for the challenge.