Industrial production increased in March

Industrial production increased by 0.4 percent last month and rose at an annual rate of 0.2 percent in the first quarter, according to March’s Federal Reserve Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization report.

 Manufacturing output fell by 0.5 percent last month and was 1.1 percent below its level in March 2022. As a whole, the manufacturing sector increased 0.3 percent at an annual rate. The indexes for durable manufacturing and nondurable manufacturing fell by 0.9 percent and 0.1 percent in March, respectively, while the index for publishing and logging manufacturing fell 0.7 percent.

 Most durable industries sustained losses, according to the report, including wood products posting the largest drop of 2.9 percent, followed by nonmetallic mineral products at 2.6 percent. Within nondurables, increases of at least 1 percent were seen in apparel and leather along with petroleum and coal products. Chemicals posted the largest loss, at 0.9 percent.  

At 103 percent of its 2017 average, total industrial production in March was a half-percent above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization inched up to 79.8 percent, near its 50-year average. Capacity utilization for manufacturing fell by a half-percent to 78.1 percent, also near its long-term average. 

Mining output fell by a half-percent in March, with drops in the indexes for oil and gas extraction, other mining and support activities. The output of utilities increased 8.4 percent, with rises in both electric and natural gas utilities. The operating rate for mining fell by a half-percentage point to 91.1 percent, while the operating rate for utilities increased 5.6 percentage points to 75.3 percent. The rate for mining was above its long-term average, while the utilities rate remained noticeably below its long-term average.   

Nondurable consumer goods, business supplies and energy materials recorded significant gains as a result of the jump in the output of utilities. Defense and space equipment increased by 0.8 percent. Sectors that recorded drops included construction supplies at 1.8 percent; business equipment at 1 percent; durable consumer goods at 0.9 percent; and non-energy materials at 0.5 percent.