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Great Lakes steel production rises by 4.75 percent

Feralloy employees work on a guardrail near steel coils in the company's Portage facility in 2012. Steel production rebounded by 26,000 tons in the Great Lakes region last week.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes rose from 547,000 tons the previous week to 573,000 tons last week and the capacity utilization rate is nearly 11 percentage points lower than it was at the same time last year.

Local steel output has been much lower than normal all year because of soaring imports that have seized a record-breaking 30 percent of the total market share. Overall U.S. production lags 2014 by 9.1 percent as the year is winding down.

Great Lakes steel output rebounded by 26,000 tons, or 4.75 percent, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output fell by just under 1 percent during 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. Indiana, which also has steelmaking operations in Fort Wayne and Crawfordsville, has led the nation in steel production for more than 30 years, largely because of the big mills on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Calumet Region.

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Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 492,000 tons last week, down from 506,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.523 million tons, down from 1.536 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 63.7 percent last week, down from 64.2 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 74.6 percent at the same time a year earlier, but some industry analysts say it wouldn't be healthy unless it were over 90 percent.

Year-to-date steel output has been 85.3 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 71.2 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 93.9 million tons at the same point in 2014.

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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.