steel hot pipe
Steel mills are operating at more than 77 percent of capacity, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
Photo courtesy of United States Steel Corp.

Steel output in the US remains on upward trajectory

AISI reports weekly production increases in last two weeks of February; imports also down from 2020 level.

March 2, 2021

Steel producers in the United States increased their overall output in late February, reaching 1.75 million tons of production in the week ending Feb. 27, 2021, according to the Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

That figure represents a 0.2 percent rise from the previous week’s output, when closer to 1.75 million tons of steel were produced in the U.S. Production the week ending Feb. 20, 2021, also rose (by just 0.1 percent) compared with the prior week.

Year-to-date steel production in the U.S. remains about 8.4 percent lower compared with the first two months of 2020, says AISI, reflecting an industry sector that still has not rebounded completely from the impacts of COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions.

The AISI capability utilization rate (mill capacity rate) reached 77.2 percent at the end of February 2021, representing a healthy climb from the COVID-19 related low point of 51.1 percent at the end of April 2020. That figure remains below the 81.3 percent pre-COVID-19 restrictions capacity rate of 81.3 percent in late February 2020, however.

Domestic steelmakers experienced less competition from imported steel in January 2021 compared with the year before, according to AISI. The association says its review of U.S. Census Bureau statistics show 23.1 percent less imported steel was received by U.S. buyers in January of this year compared with the first month of 2020.

AISI figures do show, however, that the volume of imported steel rose in January 2021 compared with the prior month.

The trade association continues to advocate for import restrictions or tariffs. In early February, AISI President and CEO Kevin Dempsey issued a statement supporting 51 members of the Congressional Steel Caucus after they sent a letter to President Joe Biden in support of preserving tariffs and quotas on imports of foreign steel.

“We are pleased and grateful that so many members of Congress [have] sent a compelling letter to President Biden emphasizing the impact that unfairly traded imports and global steel overcapacity have had on our industry — and that the steel tariffs and quotas have significantly reduced foreign steel imports,” Dempsey writes in part.