Great Lakes steel production rose by 5,000 tons last week, while U.S. steel mills remained close to 80% of capacity, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
But national steel output is up more than 44% year over year after steel mills sunk to half capacity early on in the coronavirus pandemic around this time in 2020.
Steel mills in the Great Lakes region, clustered mainly along the South Shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, made 616,000 tons of metal in the week that ended May 1, up from 611,000 tons the previous week.
Overall, domestic steel mills in the United States made 1.788 million tons of steel last week, up 0.4% from 1.781 million tons the previous week, and up 44.4% as compared to 1.238 million tons the same time a year prior, when the onset of the coronavirus pandemic shut down auto plants and other factories, gutting the demand for steel.
So far this year, domestic steel mills in the United States have made 30.31 million tons of steel, a 4% increase compared to the 29.43 million tons made during the same period in 2020.
U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 77.4% through May 1, up from 73.6% at the same point in 2020, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
Steel capacity utilization nationwide was 78.7% last week, which was up from 55.2% at the same time a year ago and up from 78.4% at the same time 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, was 756,000 tons last week, up from 744,000 tons the week before. Volume in the rest of the Midwest fell to 185,000 tons, down from 189,000 tons the week prior.