Manufacturing Getty

US Industrial Output Plunges in August on Hurricane Harvey Hit

Total industrial output fell by 0.9% compared to July, driven down by the 0.3% drop in manufacturing, which included big drops in output for oil, chemicals and plastics.

Output at U.S. factories plunged in August due to the big hit from Hurricane Harvey that shut down huge parts of the nation's oil refining, the Federal Reserve reported on Sept. 15.

The massive storm that hit the Gulf Coast of Texas late that month is estimated to have cut U.S. industrial production by three-quarters of a percentage point, the report said.

Total industrial output fell by 0.9% compared to July, driven down by the 0.3% drop in manufacturing, which included big drops in output for oil, chemicals and plastics, as well as a 0.8% drop in the mining sector, due to disruptions in drilling and extraction.

At the same time, industrial capacity in use dropped to 76.1%, down eight-tenths from the prior month as the storm forced major shutdowns.

Economists had forecast an increase of 0.2% in industrial production and a slight rise in capacity utilization, apparently not factoring in the likely impact of the hurricane on a major US industrial hub.

Manufacturing of energy products for consumers fell nearly five percent in the month which the Fed said reflected in part the "hurricane-related reduction in petroleum refining."

There were some positive elements in the report, including a rebound in the manufacturing of motor vehicle and parts, which retraced half the decline seen in July.

And even with the hurricane-fueled declines, total output remains 1.5% higher than August 2016, while mining is nearly 10% higher and petroleum production is up almost three percent.

In an explanatory note, the Fed explained that the hurricane impacts on many industries were estimated which means there could be big revisions in coming months.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2017

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