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Local steel production slips by 1 percent

ArcelorMittal in Riverdale in 2012. Local steel production fell slightly, by 1 percent, last week. 

Raw steel production in the Great Lakes region slipped slightly to 631,000 tons last week, only the third time it's dropped in the first 10 weeks of 2016.

Local steel output has been recovering after imports grabbed a record-breaking 29 percent of total market share last year. Imports were down to only 23 percent of the market share last month.

Great Lakes steel output fell by 7,000 tons, or 1 percent, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output slipped by 1.1 percent during the same period.

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 more than 30 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, fell to 576,000 tons last week, as compared to 581,000 a week before.

Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.673 million tons, down from 1.692 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 71.5 percent last week, down from 72.4 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 68.9 percent at the same time a year earlier, but some industry analysts say it wouldn’t be healthy unless it were over 90 percent.

Year-to-date steel output in the United States has been 16.4 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 69.7 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 17.4 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.