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ArcelorMittal pumped $7.8 billion into U.S. economy last year

ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago is pictured above. The steelmaker made nearly 15 million tons of steel in the United States last year.

ArcelorMittal grew its U.S. steel production to 14.55 million tons last year, up from 14.39 tons the previous year, and has reason to believe the upward trend will continue, according to its newly released 2016 United States Integrated Report.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker estimated it had a $7.8 billion impact on the U.S. economy, including $5.5 billion paid out to suppliers, $2.2 billion in wages, and $42 million in property taxes. The company also said it gave $8.2 million back to local communities like Northwest Indiana, mainly for educational and environmental initiatives.

"ArcelorMittal’s business in the United States has performed admirably in the challenging times of the past few years," USA President and Chief Executive Officer John Brett said in the report. "Our team has worked diligently to ensure our business is resilient, agile, lean, and positioned for success in the future. In 2016, our business underwent significant transitions. We spent the year undergoing important strategic restructuring in our operations, setting our business on course for a stronger future. The work completed last year is quickly showing signs of positive impact and realized financial improvement."

ArcelorMittal employs 18,000 workers in the United States, mostly in Northwest Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The company said its entry-level hourly pay is much higher than the local minimum wage and that its competitive wages contribute significantly to the local economy.

The company said it's been seeing a slow but ongoing recovery since the economic downturn of 2009, though that was dampened by a flood of imports in recent years. But market conditions and prices have been improving.

"Last year, I began my message to our stakeholders in this report by acknowledging that 2015 was a challenging year for ArcelorMittal and for the steel and mining industry around the world. This year, I begin this message with a renewed sense of optimism in the state of our business and our industry," Brett said. "Since the latter part of 2008, our industry has weathered the worst economic times in more than 15 years. Though our industry remains challenged by global structural overcapacity, primarily in China, today we look ahead to an innovative, strong future."

The company increased capital investment in the United States last year to $280 million, up from $233 million the previous year. That included investments in ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago, where it closed several finishing lines in order to reduce overhead and improve efficiency at a time of massive global steelmaking overcapacity.

"At the heart of our business changes in 2016 was building long-term financial sustainability for ArcelorMittal in the United States," he said. "I look forward to working with our stakeholders internally and externally to ensure ArcelorMittal’s future in the United States remains optimistic and the domestic steel industry remains healthy. Though 2016 began what we hope will be an upward trend in our business and industry, we know there are still significant challenges to face in the future together."


Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.