U.S. Steel is idling mills in Texas and Alabama, and laying off nearly 800 workers across the country.

None of the current round of layoffs are in Northwest Indiana, where U.S. Steel is one of the larger employers.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker told employees it would temporarily idle the Lone Star Tubular Operations in Texas, and temporarily idle the Fairfield Tubular Operations in Alabama. U.S. Steel's once-thriving tubular business, which consists of pipes and tubes for oil drills, has shriveled since the price of crude oil crashed. 

Though the price of crude oil has rallied in recent days, it's still well below the $100 threshold it had been trading at in 2014. Oil and gas companies have responded by laying off more than 300,000 workers around the globe, according to Houston energy consultant Graves and Co.

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U.S. Steel also needs to scale back in response to the price collapse, spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said.

"As we adjust operations throughout our tubular organization, we are right-sizing our staffing needs as well," Cassella said. "These actions are part of an ongoing adjustment in operations due to challenging market conditions, including fluctuating oil prices, reduced rig counts, depressed steel prices and unfairly traded imports. All of these factors continue to reduce demand for tubular goods."

U.S. Steel says it may lay off up to 450 union-represented workers at Lone Star. The steelmaker also could lay off up to 200 union steelworkers at Fairfield and another 120 non-union workers at Fairfeld, Lone Star, Lorain Tubular Operations in Ohio, Oilwell Services in Texas, and its sales office in Houston. 

Last year, U.S. Steel sent layoff warning notices to 9,000 employees nationwide during an import crisis that resulted after China flooded the global market with about 112 tons of steel, stealing market share and depressing prices. The steelmaker shut down the coke plant at Gary Works, cancelled its multimillion dollar attempt to develop a coke substitute, and idled blast furnaces at Gary Works, East Chicago Tin and Granite Works in Illinois.


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.