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Steel output down 9.3 percent so far this year
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Steel output down 9.3 percent so far this year

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Steel output down 9.3 percent so far this year

A worker walks through rows of ArcelorMittal coils in 2011 as they are loaded onto a ship bound for Macedonia from the Port of Indiana. Great Lakes steel output fell by 5,000 tons last week.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes fell from 573,000 tons the previous week to 568,000 tons last week and the capacity utilization rate was more than 13 percent 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 29 percent of the total market share. Overall U.S. production lags 2014 by 9.3 percent as the year is winding down.

Great Lakes steel output dropped by 5,000 tons, or 0.8 percent, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output fell by 0.87 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.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 448,000 tons last week, down significantly from 492,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.456 million tons, down from 1.523 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 60.9 percent last week, down from 63.7 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 86.8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 71 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 95.7 million tons at the same time 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.

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