Autoworkers strike slowed October manufacturing

Manufacturing output fell 0.7 percent in October amid the recent United Auto Workers strike, according to the Federal Reserve

The strike, which lasted from Sept. 15 to Oct. 30, covered the contracts of approximately 145,000 UAW members who together produce half of the vehicles manufactured annually in the United States. The output of motor vehicles and parts fell 10 percent in October. 

Manufacturing output is 1.7 percent lower than its year-earlier mark. The index for durable manufacturing fell 1.3 percent in October, while the index for nondurable manufacturing edged down 0.1 percent. Publishing and logging manufacturing increased 0.5 percent.

Decreases of more than 1 percent were reported in the indexes for primary metals and furniture and related products. The largest increases were reported in computer and electronic products — 1.9 percent — and electrical equipment, appliances and components — 1.5 percent. The index for manufacturing excluding motor vehicles and parts increased 0.1 percent. 

Within nondurable manufacturing, a 2.2 percent increase in the indexes for petroleum and coal products and 0.7 percent increase in paper were offset by decreases in plastics, rubber products and chemicals.  

Industrial production fell 0.6 percent and is 0.7 percent below its year-ago level. The index for consumer durables fell 5.8 percent, led by a 10.3 percent drop in the index for automotive products. The production of consumer nondurable goods increased 0.1 percent, while the output of business equipment fell a half-percent due to a drop in the transit component.  

The index for defense and space equipment increased 1.7 percent in October, its 10th straight monthly increase. The index for construction supplies increased 0.2 percent while business supplies fell 0.4 percent. The largest decline in materials was in durables, which includes automotive parts. 

Mining output increased 0.4 percent last month and was 2.2 percent above its year-earlier mark. The index for utilities fell 1.6 percent in October but was approximately 3 percent above its year-ago level.

Capacity utilization for manufacturing fell 0.6 percentage points to 77.2 percent in October, near its 50-year average. The operating rate for mining increased a half-percent to 94.3 percent, 7.9 percent above its long-run average. The operating rate for utilities fell 1.3 percent to 71.4 percent, which is below its historical average.

Manufacturing fell this month in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City region as expectations for future activity slightly declined. Price indexes were reportedly mixed as raw materials prices slightly increased while finished goods prices fell. 

The monthly composite index — an average of the production, employment, new orders, supplier delivery time and raw materials inventory indexes — improved six points to -2 from -8 in October but was mainly unchanged from September. 

“Most month-over-month index remained negative,” said Kansas City Fed Senior Vice President Chad Wilkerson, Research Associate Chase Farha and Senior Survey Analyst Jannety Mosley. “The volume of shipments and new orders indexes increased moderately, while supplier delivery time inched downward. However, employment and average employee workweek declined slightly.”