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U.S. steel production falls to 68.6% of capacity
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U.S. steel production falls to 68.6% of capacity

Nation's steel capacity plunges to just 68.6 percent

U.S. Steel's Gary Works is shown in this aerial view. Steel production in the Great Lakes reason grew by 5,000 tons last week.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose to 610,000 tons last week, up from 605,000 the previous week.

Local steel output has been lower than normal all year because of skyrocketing imports that have snatched a record-breaking 30 percent of the total market share. Overall U.S. production lags 2014 by 8.1 percent so far this year.

Great Lakes steel production rose 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 about 1.5 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 536,000 tons last week, down from 573,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.641 million tons, down from 1.667 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 68.6 percent last week, down from 69.7 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been a much more robust 76.5 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 74.5 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 72.2 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. It had been 81 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.

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