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Great Lake steel production slides

Shown are steelmaking facilities at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor. Steel production in the Great Lakes region fell by 3.13 percent last week.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region slid to 625,000 tons last week after hitting a yearly high the previous week.

Local steel output has been recovering this year after imports grabbed a record-breaking 29 percent of total market share last year. Imports were down to only 23 percent of the market share last month, and Great Lakes production has risen in eight of the 12 weeks so far this year.

Great Lakes steel output fell by 31,000 tons, or 3.13 percent, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output fell by 3.1 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 35 straight years, largely because of the big local 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 slightly to 591,000 tons last week, as compared to 592,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.688 million tons, down from 1.722 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 71.3 percent last week, down from 73.6 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 67.7 percent at the same time a year earlier, and some industry analysts say it wouldn’t be healthy unless it were over 90 percent.

Year-to-date steel output in the United States has been 19.8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 70.2 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 20.6 million tons at the same time in 2015.

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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.