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HarMac Executive: Steel Sense - 2014 recap / 2015 outlook

by Pat Maillett, HarMac Rebar and Steel, Executive Vice President (article first published in AH Harris Newsletter "Concrete Evidence" in November 2014).

2014 has been a year where a lot of uncertainty prevailed early in the year, but it led us to a more positive outlook for the balance of 2014 and into 2015.

It is hard to imagine, after the slowdown the construction industry has been through the past few years, but many firms are challenged by finding, recruiting and retaining qualified workers as the industry continues to rebound. Construction firms in most states have been expanding during the past 12 months. But as they expand they have to work harder to attract skilled craft workers and key construction professionals. This has resulted with association officials calling for new career and technical school programs, as our nation's educational focus has moved away from teaching trade and technical skills the past few decades.

The economy seems to be rebounding and construction projects once again seem to be more than a conceptual plan on a set of blueprints, we just need the workforce to build them.

U.S. Raw Steel Production
For the week ending October 18 raw steel output totaled 1,822,000 net tons up 1% from the previous week. Year to date mills have produced 77,063,000 tons up 0.5% from the same period last year. Any positive movement is a move in the right direction with economists projecting a stronger year in 2015.

Scrap
Since the last update in scrap approximately 55 days ago the transaction price has dropped approximately 5%. The demand has been stronger for the steel products at the mills, keeping transaction prices relatively flat. Steel executives feel that scrap prices may lower in November but are unclear where prices may settle.

As always we will attempt to keep our customers up to date on the latest developments within the steel industry. If we can help explain what’s currently going on in our industry, give our HarMac office a call: 207-935-3531

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