January 2, 2009

Steel output in sharp decline

U.S. steelmakers, in a healthy resurgence through most of 2008, have seen output cut drastically since September, the American Iron and Steel Institute said.

Output for the industry was up to 2.1 million tons a week at the end of August, The New York Times reported Friday. By the end of December output had fallen to 1.02 million tons a week and the price of steel had dropped to half its late summer peak.

Steelmakers are now lobbying for a federal stimulus bill that pushes infrastructure work. What we are asking, said Nucor Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Daniel DiMicco, is a package that has in every provision a 'buy America' clause.

Steel's demise came in a rush as steel is a basic component of a so many products, the Times said.

A spokesman for the United States Steel Corp. John Armstrong, said two of the company's six mills have been idled.

The third quarter was one of the best in U.S. Steel's history, he said. And it has been a very precipitous drop from there.

The United Steelworkers Union said it expected 20,000 workers to be furloughed in 2009.