Great Lakes steel output soars to yearly high

File of ArcelorMittal steel mill in Burns Harbor Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010.

Jon L. Hendricks | The Times

Great Lakes steel production shot up to a yearly high of 709,000 tons last week, an increase of 4.88 percent.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 676,000 tons of metal the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Most of the steel made in the Great Lakes region is produced in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

So far this year, U.S. steelmakers have produced 62.6 million tons of steel, about 3.3 percent more than they did during the same period in 2016. Steel mills have been running at a capacity of 74.6 percent so far this year, up from 72.1 percent through the same time last year.

Domestic steelmakers used about 74.3 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Sept. 9, down from 74.9 percent the previous week but significantly up from 68 percent at the same time a year earlier, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Some analysts say steelmaking capacity utilization of about 90 percent would be considered healthy for an industry that's been beset by imports and mill idlings in recent years.

Overall, U.S. national steel output fell by 14,000 tons last week to 1.73 million tons, a decrease of 0.8 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern District, nearly always the country's second-largest steel-producing region, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 589,000 tons last week, down from 622,000 tons the previous week.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.