The steel industry in the United States operated at 81.4 percent of capacity the week ending May 29, marking the first time since COVID-19 began affecting economic activity that mills have operated at more than 80 percent of capacity.
According to the Washington-based American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI), raw steel production in the U.S. of 1.85 million tons the week before Memorial Day represented a 2.4 percent jump in output from the prior week, when mills operated at 79 percent of capacity.
The May 2021 figures are far surpassing the comparatively dormant circumstances of May 2020. The week ending May 29, 2020, mills produced just 1.22 million tons of steel, or 50.1 percent less than this year’s weekly total. That week in 2020, mills operated at just 54.6 percent of capacity.
Year-to-date steel production in the United States has amounted to 35.9 million tons, which is up by 9.5 percent from the first five months of 2020, when just 32.8 million tons of steel were produced.
Throughout 2021, steel prices have been rising globally, as has demand for ferrous scrap, contributing to healthy earnings reports from steelmakers and scrap processors. Panelists at the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) Ferrous Division meeting on May 31 discussed the possibility of additional scrap demand from China adding to the upward price momentum of ferrous scrap.