China produced 716.5 million metric tons of steel last year, making it by far the largest producer. Four years earlier, China produced about 500 million tons, according to the World Steel Association.
Japan ranked second in 2012, making 107.2 million tons. The U.S. produced 88.6 million tons, only 12.3 percent of the amount produced in China.
Other top producers in 2012 included: India, 76.7 million tons; and South Korea, 69.3 million tons.
In 2012, Asian countries produced 65.4 percent of all the world's steel, according to the World Steel Association. World steel production reached more than $1.5 trillion tons -- a record.
But productivity sometimes seems to have little to do with total production.
Labor productivity in the domestic steel industry improved dramatically over the past generation, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, a coalition of steel producers.
In the early 1980s, it took an average of 10.1 man-hours to produce a finished ton of steel in the U.S. By 2006, that dropped to only two.
Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said the monthly trade deficit with China "continues to assume massive proportions, clocking in at $29 billion in November, down just slightly from an all-time record of $29.5 billion in October.
"Despite talk of a manufacturing renaissance, we will shatter 2011's record $295 billion annual trade deficit with China when the data for December" is released in February.
By November 2012, the trade deficit with China already reached $290 billion.
A coalition between the United Steelworkers of America, U.S. Steel and several other steel companies, AAM recently released a report that stated, "Our manufacturing sector alone has lost 5.5 million jobs in just the last decade, with 2.4 million lost or displaced as a direct result of our massive trade deficit with China."
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel operated steel mills south of Wheeling and in Steubenville, Ohio, for decades. But that company has been in economic turmoil for several years.
Recent owners of the Wheeling-Pittsburgh mills included Severstal, a Russian-based company, and RG Steel.
Last August, after RG Steel had filed for bankruptcy in May, the company began auctioning off its properties in West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.
Glyptis said, "They are still up in the air with their sales. They are still trying to find buyers for the Sparrows Point plant in Maryland.
"In Wheeling, pieces of the old steel mill are still open. The mill has been fragmented into a lot of pieces."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.