The steel industry continues to face a gloomy outlook. The major contributing factor appears to be a glut in supply caused by record high imports of steel from other countries, most notably China. According to an article in The Times of Northwest Indiana, “U.S. steelmakers have grumbled and groused about a record deluge of imports that soared to 31 percent of the market share in April, as compared to 20 percent in April 2014.”
Combined with weaker demand due to the present softness of the oil industry, this adds up to increasing headaches for steel executives and decreasing profitability for steel companies. Employees are also feeling the pain. U.S. Steel, one of the largest steel producers in the U.S. with approximately 35,000 workers, issued layoff notices earlier this year to about 9,000 employees.
Many in the industry view the record high imports as unfair and in violation of current trade agreements. U.S. Steel chief executive Mario Longhi told Reuters the company is close to filing anti-dumping complaints with U.S. authorities, stating “It's no longer a matter of if we're going to file, it's a matter of when.”
Not surprisingly, all of this turmoil in an industry that affects so many people’s lives has caught the attention of lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind). Donnelly is among those who are pushing for more protections in Congress against dumping of steel at below market prices. Whether any action will actually occur is yet to be seen. However, the protracted softness of the steel industry has already led to a number of steel companies filing bankruptcy – and will likely see many more.