Steel production up by 5.6 percent this year

A view of of the Gary Works steel mill looming over downtown Gary.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 712,000 tons last week, a marginal increase of 1,000 tons.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 711,000 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.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.906 million tons of metal last week, down from the 1.924 million tons made the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 78.1 percent this year, up from 74.2 percent at the same point in 2017, according to the AISI.

Domestic steelmakers used about 81.3 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Nov. 24, up from 73.3 percent at the same time a year ago but down from 82.1 percent a week prior, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

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Some analysts say steel-making 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 in Northwest Indiana, because of their high fixed operating costs, but the capacity utilization rate has been significantly higher this year than it was during the downturn in the steel industry during the import crisis a few years ago.

Nationally, as 25 percent Section 232 tariffs make imports more expensive, steel output is up by 5.6 percent this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, a 0.1 percent increase as compared to the past week and the 13th straight week of increase.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, decreased to 683,000 tons last week, down from 692,000 tons the previous week.

Steel output in the greater Midwest dipped to 207,000 tons last week, down from 214,000 tons the previous week.


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.