Northwest Indiana's steel industry produces $16.6 billion worth of economic output a year

A steelworker at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago. A new industry report describes the economic impact of steel making.

Northwest Indiana's steel industry continues to have a major impact, contributing more than $18 billion to the economy and employing more than 24,000 workers, a new study found.

A study by the research firm of John Dunham & Associates commissioned by the American Iron and Steel Institute concluded that the steel industry in Indiana's 1st Congressional District, which encompasses much of Northwest Indiana, contributes $16.6 billion in economic activity a year, employs 18,300 workers and pays more $2.15 billion in wages.

In the neighboring 2nd Congressional District, which includes much of LaPorte County and the ArcelorMittal facilities in New Carlisle, the steel industry generates $1.6 billion in economic activity, employs another 3,800 workers, and pays $304 million in payroll.

Nationally, the steel industry supports 2 million jobs, contributes $520 billion to the economy, pays $130 billion in wages and benefits and pays $56 billion in federal, state and local taxes, according to The Economic Impact of the American Iron and Steel Industry study. The domestic steel industry's largest trade association commissioned the study in an effort to justify the Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent on most foreign-made steel and to call for other steel industry-friendly policies.

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“The American iron and steel industry is a dynamic part of the U.S. economy. This comprehensive analysis provides detailed geographic breakdowns, including at the congressional district level, and is the most accurate snapshot of the full breadth of the economic impact of today’s American iron and steel industry,” AISI President and CEO Thomas Gibson said. “The results illustrate why strong, pro-manufacturing policies are needed to ensure the sustainability of an industry with such an impactful employment base and robust economic footprint.”

The iron and steel industry employs 387,000 workers directly, and supports another 716,000 supplier jobs, according to the study, which crunched industry and government data. The steel industry itself cranks out $207 billion in economic output a year, while suppliers of iron ore and other inputs chipped in another $173 billion.

In Indiana, the steel industry generates $26.8 billion in economic output and employs 37,649 workers who earn $3.8 billion in direct wages a year. In neighboring Illinois, the steel sector produces $11.7 billion in economic output, employing 25,238 workers who collectively bring home $2.2 billion in direct wages.


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.