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Great Lakes steel output shoots up by 15,000 tons

Feralloy employees work on a guardrail in 2012 near steel coils in the company's Portage facility. Great Lakes steel production rose by 15,000 tons last week.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose to 639,000 tons last week, after a sharp drop 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 24 percent of the market share last month, and Great Lakes production has risen in 11 of the 16 weeks so far this year.

Overall U.S. steel output rose by 2.4 percent last week, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

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, rose to 571,000 tons last week, compared to 552,000 tons a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.69 million tons, up from 1.65 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 72.4 percent last week, up from 70.8 a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 69.8 percent at the same time a year earlier, and some industry analysts say it wouldn’t be healthy unless it were more than 90 percent.

Year-to-date steel output in the United States has been 26.5 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 70.5 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 27.1 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.