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Steel output up by 6.8% this year

A 8,200-ton leveler is shown at the ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor Plate Heat Treat Facility in this file photo. Steel production in the United States has risen by 6.8% so far this year.

Great Lakes steel production dipped to 706,000 tons last week, a drop of 1.2 percent.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 715,000 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, which are home to half the nation's blast furnace capacity.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.928 million tons of steel last week, up from 1.913 million tons the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 81.9% through April 6, up from 76.5% at the same point in 2018, according to the AISI.

Domestic steelmakers used about 82.8% of their steel-making capacity in the week that ended April 6, up from 76.3% a year earlier and up from 82.2% the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

A steel capacity utilization rate of 83.4% four weeks ago was the highest level reached in the United States since September 2008, according to the trade publication Platts.

The domestic steel industry has not been running at 80% for years. The capacity utilization rate has been significantly higher this year in the wake of the 25% percent tariffs on all steel imports than during the most recent downturn when blast furnaces were taken offline at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago and elsewhere.

So far this year, domestic steel mills have made 26.1 million tons of steel, a 6.8% increase over the same period in 2018.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, soared to 746,000 tons last week, up from 725,000 tons the previous week.

Steel output in the greater Midwest rose to 195,000 tons last week, up from 187,000 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.