The Economy: Slump in Steel

The steel industry is proud of the axiom that "As steel goes, so goes the economy." Increasingly, this boast is challenged by those who say that the growing switch to such substitute materials as aluminum and concrete makes steel a lot less basic than it once was. But steel is still the biggest single force in U.S. industry, still directly provides the bread and butter of one U.S. industrial worker in 23.

Last week the butter was being spread a little thinner. Since March, steel production has slipped from 82% of capacity to...

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