Indiana continues to lead the nation in steel production accounting for about a quarter of the nation’s steel output, despite a more than 7% production decline.
Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the Hoosier state produced 24.7 million tons of steel in 2019, down from 26.7 million tons the previous year.
Overall, U.S. steel mills shipped 96.1 million tons of steel last year, up 0.9% from 2018.
The American Iron and Steel Institute, a trade association representing the steel industry, says Indiana has led the nation in steel production since 1977.
In the 1970s, the industry suffered major contraction and job losses throughout the country.
According to The Times, much of the integrated steel production ended up consolidating in Northwest Indiana. With its proximity to Lake Michigan, the industry in Porter and Lake counties has a cost advantage. It’s easier to access raw materials needed for steelmaking delivered on lake freighters.
Hoosier steel also comes from Steel Dynamics Inc. (Nasdaq: STLD) in Fort Wayne and Nucor Steel in Crawfordsville, but a vast majority of the production comes from northwest Indiana where U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal have large complexes.
The publication says both of those companies idled a blast furnace due to depressed steel prices and tough market conditions. Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) recently announced additional layoffs of non-union workers at the Gary Works and Midwest Plant in Portage.
In December, U.S. Steel announced it will idle operations at its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit around April 1, laying off as many as 1,545 workers. The company says production will be transferred to Gary Works.