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Great Lakes steel production dropped by 7,000 tons

No. 14 blast furnace at U.S. Steel Gary Works in Gary in 2012. Great Lakes steel production dropped to 632,000 tons last week.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region dipped to 632,000 tons last week, a 1 percent decline.

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 17 weeks so far this year, though it still trails the 2015 pace.

Overall U.S. steel output declined by 0.5 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, dipped to 570,000 tons last week, compared to 571,000 tons a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.684 million tons, down from 1.693 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 72 percent last week, down from 72.4 percent 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 28.2 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 70.6 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 28.8 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.