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Jobs To Follow? Manufacturing Posts 1% Growth In February

By John S. McClenahen The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy grew by 1% in February, its best performance since November 2003, and capacity utilization advanced to 75.2%, the U.S. Federal Reserve reported on March 15. U.S. manufacturing is growing at an annual rate of 5.8% so far in this year's first quarter, just slightly below its 6.2% rate for the final quarter of last year, notes UBS Investment Research, New York. "The emerging manufacturing recovery [from the 2001 recession] is both broad-based and durable," claims Jerry J. Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, D.C. "The data show increased output in 16 of 19 sectors in February and that industrial output has risen six months in a row." U.S. industrial output, which in addition to manufacturing includes mining and utilities, rose 0.7% in February, nearly double the 0.4% gain economists generally expected. "With overall economic conditions continuing to improve, I expect that we will begin to see a turnaround in manufacturing employment in the next month or so," says Jasinowski.

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