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Steel production up by 6.7 percent this year

A steelworker oversees an operation at ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbor operations. Great Lakes steel output declined by 1,000 tons last week.

Great Lakes steel production dipped to 715,000 tons last week, a statistically marginal decline of 1,000 tons.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 716,000 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 1.913 million tons of steel last week, down from 1.934 million tons the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 81.8% through March 30, up from 76.6% at the same point in 2018, according to the AISI.

Domestic steelmakers used about 82.2% of their steel-making capacity in the week that ended March 30, up from 78.3% a year earlier but down from 83.1% the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

A steel capacity utilization rate of 83.4% three 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 24.2 million tons of steel, a 6.7% increase over the same period in 2018.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, fell to 725,000 tons last week, down from 737,000 tons the previous week.

Steel output in the greater Midwest dipped to 187,000 tons last week, down from 189,000 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.