Looking Up: Good News in the Thermal-Processing Industry and Economy
This month, we thought we would focus on some of the good news coming across our desks. It certainly seems as though things in our industry and economy are looking up.
A good place to start is Industrial Heating’s monthly economic indicators. For those who are not familiar, each month we survey industry leaders from our readership who provide their feedback on the following four measures: change in number of requests for quotation (60), change in number of orders (57.9), change in backlog (56.6) and expected change in health of the industry (59.5). A number above 50 indicates growth in that metric. Beginning in December 2016, all four indicators moved into the growth category. Since then, there has been some up and down, but current numbers (in parentheses) are all in the upper-50s to 60, indicating strong growth. In the past month, three of the four indicators were up.
Kiplinger recently reported on 15 industrial stocks poised for gains in 2018. The 15 include eight companies with strong ties to high-temperature thermal processing and vertical industries. These include Caterpillar, Stanley Black & Decker, Carpenter Technology, Gardner Denver, The Timken Company, Emerson Electric, Illinois Tool Works and Honeywell.
A March Bloomberg article indicated U.S. factories expanded at a faster rate in February than at any time since 2004. These metrics are similar to our economic indicators, but they apply to all manufacturing. The report indicated that “in addition to firmer overseas and domestic sales, corporate optimism is getting a lift from the recent tax-cut law and reduced regulation.” Of the 18 manufacturing industries surveyed, 15 showed growth – led by primary metals and machinery.
If you are a subscriber to our daily news item – the IH Daily – you have probably noticed all of the good news in steel. Looking back to the beginning of the year, here are some of the highlights.
- New ironmaking plant in Ohio to employ 130.
- JSW USA invests $500 million in hot-end facility.
- Republic Steel to reopen Ohio facility and bring back 1,000 jobs.
- U.S. Steel to restart blast furnace and steelmaking, calling back 500.
- TimkenSteel at full capacity on new quench-and-temper line.
- voestalpine orders vacuum and retort furnaces.
- JSW Steel orders two reheating furnaces.
- ArcelorMittal invests $56.7 million in two reheating furnaces.
- Commercial Metals Company purchases Gerdau rebar facilities for $600 million.
- Liberty House purchases South Carolina steel plant and will rehire 125.
That’s a lot of good news in the steel industry, and we predict there is more to come. Needless to say, many of these moves were in anticipation of or in light of the tariffs announced by President Trump and reported in our IH Daily on March 9 of this year. To keep up with all that’s happening in our industry, subscribe to our IH Daily and magEzine newsletters by using this link: www.industrialheating/newsletters.
The stories bulleted here have resulted in a few thousand new or rehires. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been showing that manufacturing employment is up every month, in large part accounting for overall gains. Unemployment in the U.S. at 4.1% is in the “full-employment” range. Many in our industry have faced challenges trying to hire qualified or qualifiable people and know the reality of this statistic. While 4.1% is the average for the U.S., eight states are registering unemployment rates below 3%, and 17 more are below the 4.1% average. For the record, the highest rate (7.3%) is found in Alaska.
Good news abounds in 2018, and Industrial Heating loves to report it. We will continue to keep you informed on a daily basis, and you can check our website news anytime at www.industrialheating.com/news. Enjoy the summer!