It turned out it was a very good year for steel. Steelmakers booked record profits, thanks to a growing American economy and the implementation of President Donald Trump’s Section 232 tariffs. The trade measure, ranging from 10% to 25% on foreign steel and aluminum, gave a huge jump start to an industry that had been struggling in the latter years of the Obama presidency. The steel utilization rate climbed steadily upward during the past year, topping out at just over 80 percent at the end of the year.
Steel shipments for 2018 totaled 95.28 million tons, up nearly 5% from the 90.80 million tons shipped in 2017.