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Great Lakes steel production falls by 22,000 tons

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80-inch hot strip mill at AcerlorMittal Indiana Harbor on its way to becoming a coil of steel. Steel production dropped by 22,000 tons in the Great Lakes region last week.

Great Lakes steel production fell to 633,000 tons last week, a 3.35 percent decrease as compared to the previous week.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 655,000 tons of metal the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Most of the steel made in the Great Lakes region is produced around the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.783 million tons of metal last week, a 1.82 percent increase compared to the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 73.9 percent so far this year, down from 75.2 percent at the same point in 2017.

Domestic steelmakers, however, used about 76.5 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Feb. 24, up from 75.1 percent the previous week and also up from 75.9 percent at the same time a year ago, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Some analysts say steelmaking capacity utilization of about 90 percent is considered financially healthy for the industry.

U.S. national steel output rose by 32,000 tons last week, but is down 1.6 percent so far this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills that's usually the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, rose to 699,000 tons last week, up significantly from 654,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest fell to 161,000 tons last week, down from 162,000 tons the previous week.

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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.