Statistics gathered by the Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) show a 1.3 percent week-on-week rise in steel output for the week ending on May 30. That follows a 0.8 percent increase for the week ending May 23 compared with the prior week.
The two weekly numbers seem to indicate the slow rebound in construction and automotive industry activity is now leading to a similar recovery in steel output.
Raw steel production was more than 1.2 million tons for the week ending May 30, 2020. That is still down sharply—by 35.9 percent—from 1.88 million tons produced in the United States during the comparable week in 2019.
Another indicator of how far the industry has yet to rebound is that more than 1.8 million metric tons of steel was produced in the week ending March 21, just before COVID-19-related restrictions began causing mill operators to scale back output.
One more indicator of how much room the American steel sector has to recover is that the AISI has calculated a mill capacity utilization rate of 53.8 percent for the most recent week. That is down from a 79.4 percent mill capacity figure for the week ending March 21.
The low-output figures in April and May have caused the industry to lose ground in year-to-date output figures. Through May 30, year-to-date steel output in the U.S. is down 16.1 percent from the same time frame in 2019.