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Manufacturing Productivity Crept Up 0.4% in April Despite Auto Bottleneck

May 14, 2021
While the automotive industry is still struggling with semiconductors, chemicals and petroleum companies are coming back from a late, blustery winter.

The latest information from the Federal Reserve shows that total industrial production rose 0.7% in April. Manufacturing productivity, which excludes mining and utilities figures, rose 0.4 points after rising 3.1 points in March. Total industrial productivity is currently at 106.3% of its average 2012 levels and 103.2% for manufacturing productivity specifically.

The latest release also indicates that previous gains were better than initially reported: The Federal Reserve reported May 14 that production in March rose 2.4%, a full percentage point higher than the earlier estimate.

According to the Federal Reserve, production figures were held back by continuing difficulty in the motor vehicles and parts sector. Automotive products, transit equipment, and consumer parts all recorded production losses, likely thanks to the ongoing shortage of semiconductors. The industry group index for automotive vehicles and parts fell 4.3%.

Losses there were offset by significant gains in the chemicals and petroleum industry, likely due to resuming production from when many such factories had to shut down thanks to severe winter storms at the opening of 2021. The industry groups indexes for chemicals rose 3.2%, and the petroleum and coal products index rose by 1.6%.

Results in the rest of the industry groups were mixed: Paper and printing as well as plastics and rubber companies reported small losses, while primary metals and electronic equipment recorded notable growth of 1.7 points and 1.1 points, respectively. The Federal Reserve, in its report, said the lackluster results were possibly the result of supply chain difficulties.

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