ATLANTA The outlook for
the U.S. steel industry is steadily improving in 2012, though
long-term strength remains to be seen, according to Commercial
Metals Co. president and chief executive officer Joseph
"While there is no doubt that
weve gone through one of the worst recessions since the
early 1900s, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it
is getting brighter," Alvarado said during his keynote address
at the Association for Iron and Steel Technologys 2012
Presidents Award Breakfast in Atlanta.
Alvarado cited positive signs in
certain leading indicators, including the relaxation of lending
standards within the commercial industrial credit
marketswhich will provide companies with the capital
necessary for growthas well as strength in the
Architecture Billings Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average.
He also pointed to job creation that has been "oscillating"
around the 200,000-jobs-per-month level, the number needed to
keep the U.S. economy recovering, with the exception of April,
when the economy added just 115,000 jobs.
"Are there signs that a full
recovery is nearing?" Alvarado said. "I think so."
But while this underlying
improvement is increasingly clear and measurable, there are
some challenges ahead for the domestic steel sector, Alvarado
told AMM in the sidelines of the event.
"Right now, we see strength in
our order book and backlog," Alvarado told AMM. "Our
greatest concern? What happens after this year."
Domestic steel producers have
been seeing operating rates at roughly 75 percent and there is
growing demand, he said. But the industry might not log further
improvement without efforts from outside the industry as well,
"We cant do this alone. We
can only change the things we control," Alvarado said during
his address. "Weve shown that given the opportunity and
level playing field with the technology and process
improvements weve made over the last century that
weve positioned our industry to compete globally. . . .
Still, we need help from our leadership in Washington."
Alvarado cited the need for
enforcement of trade legislation, collaboration to create and
protect manufacturing jobs, and the passage of a long-term
transportation funding bill.
U.S. infrastructure "has fallen
behind even third-world countries," Alvarado said.
But despite the challenges
facing the industry, the overall outlook for steel is once
again becoming positive, Alvarado reiterated during his
"As history has shown, its
tough conditions that drive us to become a stronger industry,
and I have confidence that the future will be no different," he