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Local steel output rises for third straight week

Steelworkers on the job last week at ArcelorMittal R&D in East Chicago. Steel output in the United States rose by 37,000 tons last week, an increase of 2.3 percent.

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region rose to 652,000 tons last week, or 3.5 percent, which was the third consecutive weekly increase after a six-week skid.

Capacity utilization nationwide, however, was only 68.9 percent last week, the 12th straight week it’s been mired under 70 percent. That’s well below the 90 percent many analysts consider healthy. Overall U.S. steel output rose by 37,000 tons last week to 1.635 million tons, an increase of 2.3 percent, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Nationally, steel output so far this year continues to trail the sluggish 2015 pace by about 1.1 million tons. In 2015, during the worst import crisis in more than a decade, steel output in the United States declined by 10.5 percent from the year before, according to the World Steel Association.

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Much of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, grew to 563,000 tons last week, up from 547,000 tons the previous week, a 2.9 percent increase.

National steel production through the end of last week totaled 81.3 million tons, a decline of 1.3 percent, at a capacity utilization rate of 70.9 percent. The United States made 82.4 million tons of steel at a capacity utilization rate of 70.8 percent through the same period last year.

Source: American Iron and Steel Institute

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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.