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US Factory Production Fell 0.6% in September as Recovery Slackens

Oct. 16, 2020
September marked manufacturing production’s first decline after four months of growth.

The Federal Reserve Bank reported October 16 that industrial production fell by 0.6% in September following four months of growth to 101.5% of its 2012 average. Manufacturing output fell by 0.3%, and manufacturing capacity utilization dropped 0.2 points.

Along with the updated numbers for August, which show that industrial production increased by 1.2% that month, the index increased at an annual rate of 39.8% during the third quarter. Manufacturing output increased at an annual rate of 53.7% during the third quarter.

Industrial production of durable materials fell 0.5 points in September after rising 0.6 points in August. Production of primary metals and fabricated metal products both improved by 1.7 points each, and aerospace and miscellaneous transport equipment production rose by 4.6 points, but other durable-goods segments endured significant losses. Motor vehicle and parts production, after driving production growth during the summer months, fell 4.3 points in August and 4 more points in September.  

Miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing production fell 1.9 points, nonmetallic products fell 1.2 points, and computer and electronic products fell 2.6 points.

Nondurable manufacturing production was stable as textile production rose 4.5 points but was offset by losses in other sectors: the index tracking petroleum and coal product production fell 3.5 points while apparel and leather product production fell 2.1 points.

Capacity utilization fell 0.4 points in durable manufacturing but was stable for nondurable goods.

Even despite the substantial gains of the past four months, manufacturing production is currently 6.4% beneath its February level, which was followed by sharp productivity drops in March and April during spring COVID-19 lockdowns.

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