Employees at the country’s iron and steel mills dropped 53% since 1990.
While annual steel production in the U.S. has been almost flat since 1990, the number of steel jobs has fallen by half.
That productivity gain argues against increasing jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees at the country’s iron and steel mills has tumbled 53% since 1990, to 87,700 in November 2018.
On the other hand, according to the World Steel Association, U.S. steel production dropped only 2.2% in the same period, all of this despite Trump told voters in industrial battleground states such as Ohio and Indiana that he would enact trade policies that would spark a revival in steel jobs during his presidential campaign.
According to Bloomberg, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), a trade group, reported that average capacity utilization industrywide touched the 80% level in the first week of 2019, up 7 percentage points from a year earlier. That’s one reason analysts expect U.S. Steel Corp. to report a 175% jump in 2018 profit, to $936.2 million, on January 30th.
U.S. workers produced about 478 tons per person in 1990, when about 185,400 people worked in the industry, according to government data. By 2018, production had hit almost 1,000 tons a person, with 87,700 workers in the sector. This means that in less than 30 years, steelworkers have become twice as productive.
Keybanc Capital Markets estimates that about 10 million to 15 million more tons of annual capacity will come online over the next three to five years, or about a 15% increase from 2018’s total production.