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United States produced 90.1 million tons of steel in 2017

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80" hot strip mill at AcerlorMittal Indiana Harbor on its way to becoming a coil of steel. The United States produced 90.1 million tons of steel in 2017, a 4.3 percent increase over the output from 2016.

The United States produced about 90.1 million tons of steel in 2017, a 4.3 percent increase over the previous year.

Great Lakes steel production, however, plunged to 594,000 tons of steel in the last full week of the year that ended Dec. 30, closing the door on 2017 with a steep drop of 7 percent.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 639,000 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 in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

In 2017, domestic steel mills ran at a capacity of 74.3 percent, up from 70.5 percent in 2016.

Domestic steelmakers used about 70.2 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Dec. 30, down from 73.7 percent the previous week and up significantly from 67.8 percent at the same time a year earlier, 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.

Overall, U.S. national steel output fell by 81,000 tons last week to 1.63 million tons, a decrease of 4.7 percent from 1.71 million tons the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, nearly always the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, fell to 604,000 tons last week, down from 640,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the Midwest ticked down to 158,000 tons last week, a slight decrease from 162,000 tons produced a week earlier.

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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.