Steel Products Prices North America

Steel Mill Utilization Holding Steady in the Low 50s

Written by Tim Triplett

In the week ending May 16, steel production totaled 1,181,000 net tons with the mills operating at an average capability utilization rate of 52.7 percent. Production was down 1.9 percent from the prior week when output totaled 1,204,000 tons at a utilization rate of 53.7 percent, reported the American Iron and Steel Institute. Mill utilization is down around 30 percentage points from early March due to the coronavirus, but is holding fairly steady within a narrow range in the low 50s at rates comparable to the summer of 2009 when the market was coming out of the Great Recession.

Adjusted year-to-date production through May 16 totaled 32,040,000 net tons at an average utilization rate of 71.2 percent–down 13.6 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 16 week: North East: 91,000 net tons; Great Lakes, 399,000 net tons; Midwest, 124,000 net tons; South, 507,000 net tons; and West, 60,000 net tons, for a total of 1,181,000 tons. Production decreased by a total of 23,000 tons, mostly declines in the South and West regions.

Note: 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. Capability for second-quarter 2020 is approximately 29.1 million tons, compared to 30.3 million tons for the same period last year and 30.1 million tons for the first quarter of 2020. 

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