Posted April 15, 2020

Industrial production plummeted in March

With many factories suspending operations in late March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, industrial production fell 5.4 percent for the month.

Manufacturing output dropped 6.3 percent in March and at an annual rate of 7.1 percent in the first quarter. In March, the index for durable manufacturing fell 9.1 percent; the most sizable decline among its components was in motor vehicles and parts, where output fell 28.0 percent.

The decreases for total industrial production and for manufacturing were their largest since January 1946 and February 1946, respectively.

Durable goods industries that recorded decreases of between 8 percent and 10 percent included fabricated metal products, aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment, furniture and related products, and miscellaneous manufacturing. The index for nondurables fell 3.2 percent, with substantial declines in many industries but smaller decreases of 2 percent or less in food, beverage, and tobacco products; paper; and chemicals. The output of other manufacturing (publishing and logging) fell 5.4 percent.

Capacity utilization for manufacturing in March was 70.3 percent, 4.7 percentage points lower than in February and 7.9 percentage points below its long-run average.

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