Number of steel jobs falls, output increases

Work Zone hard hat and safety vest

GARY, Ind. (AP) — A struggling industry and increasing automation have cost northwestern Indiana a third of its steel jobs since 2000, but the remaining workers are producing more raw metal than their counterparts did.

The number of metal workers in the region has fallen by 8,700 jobs, or 33 percent, since 2000. But those workers are producing nearly 27 percent more tons than their predecessors, according to ArcelorMittal USA’s recently published 2013 Fact Book.

“This strong growth continues the trend of expansion following the significant weather-related decline in the early months of 2014,” Micah Pollak, assistant professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest, noted in the Northwest Indiana Index, which tracks the region’s economy.

Pollak told The Times in Munster that despite the job losses, Indiana’s situation could be worse. Nationally, employment in primary metals manufacturing has fallen by 36 percent. Meanwhile, the number of metal manufacturing jobs in the Gary metropolitan area has risen by 3.5 percent since 2010.

The number of steelworkers nationally fell sharply after LTV Corp. and other companies filed bankruptcy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

U.S. mills produced 95 million tons of steel last year, or about 10 percent less than they made between 2000 and 2007. That’s due primarily to weakened demand and increased imports.

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