Steel Products Prices North America

Mill Capacity Utilization Drops to 51 Percent

Written by Tim Triplett

Raw steel production is starting to show the full effect from the pandemic shutdowns and the capacity curtailments by domestic steelmakers. In the week ending May 2, steel production totaled 1,144,000 net tons with the mills operating at an average capability utilization rate of 51.1 percent, down 8.5 percent from the previous week, and down 39.4 percent from the same week last year, reported the American Iron and Steel Institute. Capacity utilization among the mills is down 38 percent since early March before the coronavirus crisis.

The last time the capacity utilization rate was this low was the week ending July 11, 2009 when 1,213,000 tons were produced at a rate of 50.9 percent. The last time the weekly production rate was this low was the week ending June 20, 2009, when 1,133,000 tons were produced at a rate of 47.5 percent. Production is still well above historic lows. The low of the past two decades was production of 800,000 tons and a utilization rate of 33.5 percent in the week ending Dec. 27, 2008.

Adjusted year-to-date production through May 2 totaled 29,665,000 net tons at an average utilization rate of 73.2 percent–down 11.0 percent from production in the same period last year when the average utilization rate was 81.4 percent.

Following is production by district for the May 2 week: North East: 109,000 net tons; Great Lakes, 401,000 net tons; Midwest, 121,000 net tons; South, 476,000 net tons; and West, 37,000 net tons, for a total of 1,144,000 tons. Production declined in all regions by a total of 106,000 tons.

The raw steel production tonnage provided in this report is estimated. The figures are compiled from weekly production tonnage from 50 percent of the domestic producers combined with monthly production data for the remainder. Therefore, this report should be used primarily to assess production trends. The AISI monthly production report provides a more detailed summary of steel production based on data supplied by companies representing 75 percent of U.S. production capacity.

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