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Steel production falls by 15,000 tons in the Great Lakes region

A worker monitors the hot strip mill at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor.

Great Lakes steel production dropped to 655,000 tons last week, a 2.23 percent decrease as compared to the previous week.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 670,000 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 1.747 million tons of metal last week, a decrease of 1.79 percent as compared to the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 75.5 percent so far this year, up from 74.3 percent at the same point in 2017.

Domestic steelmakers used about 74.5 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended May 12, down from 75.9 percent the previous week but up from 73.7 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, at least for the larger integrated mills like those around Lake Michigan because of their high fixed costs.

U.S. national steel output fell by 32,000 tons last week, but is up 1.7 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, fell to 637,000 tons last week, down from 667,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest rose to 165,000 tons last week, up from 148,000 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.