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Great Lakes steel production jumps by 8,000 tons

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Great Lakes steel production jumps by 8,000 tons

U.S. Steel's Gary Works mill is shown. 

Great Lakes steel production rose by 8,000 tons last week, while steel capacity utilization improved slightly, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Steel mills remained at over 80% capacity, a key threshold they operated at for most of last year, following the latest wave of industry consolidation, imposition of blanket tariffs of 25%, strong demand and generally favorable market conditions. Imports have been rising again after steel prices soared to record highs, contributing to inflation and leading the U.S. to switch to a quota system with some trading partners.

Locally, steel mills in the Great Lakes region, clustered mainly along the south shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, made 567,000 tons of metal in the week that ended May 21, up from 559,000 tons the previous week.

Overall, domestic steel mills in the United States made 1.789 million tons of steel last week, up 0.2% from 1.785 million tons the previous week and down 2.5% compared to 1.834 million tons the same time a year prior. 

Nationally, steel production so far in 2022 totals 35.199 million tons, a 1.8% decrease over 35.843 million tons through the same period last year.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 80.3% through May 21, up from 78.7% at the same point in 2021, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Steel capacity utilization, a key metric of the industry's profitability, was 82% last week, up from 81% a year earlier and up from 81.8% a week prior.

Steel production in the southern region, a wide geographic swath that encompasses many mini-mills and rivals the Great Lakes region in output, totaled 772,000 tons last week, down from 779,000 tons the week before, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Volume in the rest of the Midwest rose to 208,000 tons, up from 197,000 tons the week prior.

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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.

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