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Great Lakes steel production falls by 19,000 tons

A state-of-the-art slitter line at Randall Metal Corp. in East Chicago. Great Lakes steel production dropped by 19,000 tons last week.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region slumped to 627,000 tons last week.

Local steel output has been much lower than normal all this year because of a surfeit of imports that now account for a record-shattering 31 percent of the total market share. Overall U.S. production trails 2014 by 7.7 percent.

Great Lakes steel production slid by 19,000 tons, or 2.9 percent, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output ticked down by 0.2 percent over the same period.

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, mainly Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana. Indiana has led the nation in steel production for more than 30 years.

Production in the Southern District, which encompasses mini-mills across the South, rebounded to 615,000 tons last week, up from 596,000 tons the week before.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.756 million tons, down from 1.76 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 73.4 percent last week, down from 73.6 percent a year earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 80.2 percent at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date steel output has been 54 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 72.5 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

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Business Reporter

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.