Manufacturing data rise, wood products showed significant gains

Industrial production rose 0.4 percent in March but declined at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the first quarter, according to new data from the Federal Reserve.

Most major market groups recorded growth in March. The production of consumer durables gained 1.9 percent, bolstered by a 3.2 percent increase in the output of automotive products. Elsewhere, there were significant gains in the indexes of nondurable consumer goods (1.0 percent), defense and space equipment (0.9 percent), and business supplies (0.8 percent). In contrast, the production of energy materials decreased 0.3 percent, and the index for construction supplies declined 1.0 percent.

Industry Groups
Manufacturing output increased 0.5 percent in March and was 0.8 percent above its year-earlier level. For the first quarter, factory output ticked down 0.1 percent at an annual rate. The indexes for durable manufacturing and nondurable manufacturing moved up 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent in March, respectively, while the index for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) edged down 0.2 percent.

Industry groups within durable manufacturing posted mixed results in March. Significant gains were recorded in motor vehicles and parts (3.1 percent), aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment (1.2 percent), and wood products (0.7 percent). In contrast, the indexes for nonmetallic mineral products, for furniture, and for primary metals fell 1.8 percent, 1.0 percent, and 0.7 percent, respectively. Within nondurables, gains in the output of petroleum and coal products (4.8 percent) and chemicals (0.7 percent) were partially offset by a decline of 0.5 percent in the output of food, beverage, and tobacco products.


Mining output decreased 1.4 percent in March and fell at an annual rate of 12.3 percent in the first quarter. Declines in the output of oil and gas extraction, mining (except oil and gas), and support services for mining all contributed to the first quarter drop in mining output. In March, the output of utilities increased 2 percent, as both electric and natural gas utilities moved up.

Capacity utilization for manufacturing moved up 0.3 percentage point in March to 77.4 percent, a rate that is 0.8 percentage point below its long-run average. The operating rate for mining fell 1.3 percentage points to 91.0 percent, while the operating rate for utilities increased 1.2 percentage points to 69.1 percent. The rate for mining was 4.5 percentage points above its long-run average, while the rate for utilities remained substantially below its long-run average.


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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).