Great Lakes steel production rose by 8,000 tons last week, while U.S. steel mills remained under 85% capacity utilization, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
National steel output is now less than 20% higher than at the same time last year, when steel mills sunk to just over half-capacity early in the coronavirus pandemic. With strong demand and soaring prices, the mills have been operating at more than 80% capacity for most of this year.
Overall, domestic steel mills in the United States made 1.837 million tons of steel last week, down 1.3% from 1.861 million tons the previous week but up 13.3% compared to 1.861 million tons the same time a year prior, when the onset of the coronavirus pandemic shut down auto plants and other factories, greatly depleting the demand for steel.
So far this year, domestic steel mills in the United States have made 86.27 million tons of steel, a 19.7% increase compared to the 72.05 million tons made during the same period in 2020.
U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 81.6% through Nov. 27, up from 67.7% at the same point in 2020, according to AISI.
Steel capacity utilization nationwide was 83.2% last week, which was up from 73.3% at the same time a year ago and down from 84.3% a week prior.
Steel production in the southern region, a wide geographic swath that encompasses many mini-mills and rivals the Great Lakes region in output, totaled 768,000 tons last week, up from 787,000 tons the week before. Volume in the rest of the Midwest fell to 199,000 tons, down from 205,000 tons the week prior.