U.S. Industrial Production Falls 0.5%

May 15, 2009
Manufacturing declined 0.3%

After having fallen 1.7% in March, industrial production decreased 0.5% in April.

Production in manufacturing declined 0.3% after falling 2.1% in March. The factory operating rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 65.7% in April. The production index for durable goods decreased 0.3%, with declines in most categories partially offset by gains in the production of wood products, nonmetallic mineral products, motor vehicles and parts, and miscellaneous manufacturing.

The production of nondurable goods edged down 0.1%. The production indexes for paper products and for petroleum and coal products advanced, but the indexes for printing and support and for apparel and leather fell substantially; output indexes for other nondurables industries were either unchanged or fell slightly.

"Both the overall and manufacturing industrial production declined at a much slower pace than in March. Less inventory destocking, undoubtedly, accounts for some of the moderation in the rate of decline in production. Falling commodity prices produce a capital loss on materials sitting in inventory and rapidly declining production activity also lessens the need for stocks," explained Daniel J. Meckstroth, Chief Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI.

"We believe the April industrial production report should be viewed with some optimism that the severe industrial recession is starting to bottom out," he added. "Taken in the context of some improvement in housing and motor vehicles activity, the relatively small decline in industrial production is a sign that is consistent with our forecast that the recession will end this fall."

The capacity utilization rate for total industry fell further in April, to 69.1%.

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