Steel production is now down 8.3% for the year, while steel capacity utilization is down more than 25 percentage points as compared to the same time last year, with auto plants shut down and consumer spending slowing down to a near-standstill during the coronavirus pandemic.
Great Lakes steel production fell by 6,000 tons last week, a decrease of 1.35%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
Steel mills in the Great Lakes region, clustered mainly in Northwest Indiana, made 437,000 tons of metal, down from 443,000 tons the previous week and down from 608,000 tons just four weeks ago, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.
Overall, domestic steel mills in the United States made 1.25 million tons of steel last week, down 2.1% from 1.277 million tons the previous week. Automakers like Ford, General Motors and Honda, some of the largest consumers of North American steel, have temporarily ceased production to limit the spread of COVID-19, forcing Northwest Indiana steel mills to indefinitely idle blast furnaces.
So far this year, domestic steel mills in the United States have made 28.85 million tons of steel, a 8.3% decrease compared to the 75.4 million tons made during the same period in 2019.
U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 75.4% through April 25, down from 81.5% at the same point in 2019, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
Steel capacity utilization nationwide was 55.8% last week, which was down from 57% the previous week and down from 81.3% at the same time a year ago.
A steel capacity utilization rate of 83.4% last year was the highest level reached in the U.S. since September 2008, according to the trade publication Platts.
Steel production in the Southern region, a wide geographic swath that encompasses many mini-mills and rivals the Great Lakes region in output, produced just 501,000 tons of steel in the week that ended Saturday, down from 539,000 tons the week before. Volume in the rest of the Midwest ticked up to 132,000 tons last week, up from 124,000 tons the week prior.