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Local steel production shoots up by 21,000 tons

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80" hot strip mill on its way to becoming a coil of steel.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 628,000 tons last week, an increase of 3.45 percent.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 607,000 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 in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

So far this year, U.S. steelmakers have produced 86.7 million tons of steel, about 4.3 percent more than the 83.1 million tons they cranked out during the same period in 2016. Domestic steel mills have been running at a capacity of 74.4 percent so far this year, up from 70.5 percent through the same time last year.

Domestic steelmakers used about 72.8 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Dec. 16, up from 71.7 percent the previous week and up significantly from 67.8 percent at the same time a year earlier, 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.

Overall, U.S. national steel output rose by 91,000 tons last week to 1.69 million tons, an increase of 5.66 percent from 1.6 million tons the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, nearly always the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, rose slightly to 623,000 tons last week, up from 621,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the Midwest ticked down to 167,000 tons last week, a slight decrease from 169,000 tons produced a week earlier.

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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.