Posted May 16, 2024

April industrial production a mixed bag of small ups and downs

Industrial production was little changed in April the Fed reported. Manufacturing output decreased 0.3%; excluding motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing output edged down 0.1%.

The index for mining fell 0.6%, and the index for utilities rose 2.8%. At 102.8% of its 2017 average, total industrial production in April was 0.4 percentage points lower than its year-earlier level.

Capacity utilization moved down to 78.4% in April, a rate that is 1.2 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2023) average.

The major market groups posted mixed results in April. The index for durable consumer goods fell 1.5%, weighed down by a 1.8% decline in the output of automotive products. The index for construction supplies dropped 1.0%, and the index for business equipment decreased 0.5%. By contrast, the index for nondurable consumer goods rose 0.5% in April, as a 0.9% gain in the non-energy component outweighed a 0.2% decrease in the energy component. The output of defense and space equipment rose 0.8%, and the output of business supplies increased 0.2%.

Industry Groups

Manufacturing output decreased 0.3% in April and was 0.5 percentage point below its year-earlier level. The index for durable manufacturing declined 0.5% in April, while the index for nondurable manufacturing edged down 0.1%, and the index for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) rose 0.3%.

Most industry groups within durable manufacturing posted declines in April. The largest declines were in the indexes for motor vehicles and parts, for electrical equipment, appliances, and components, and for wood products, which fell 2.0%, 1.9%, and 1.6%, respectively. Primary metals (1.0%), computer and electronic products (0.6 percent), and aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment (0.9%) were the only groups that posted increases. Within nondurables, the output of petroleum and coal products dropped 4.4%; the other nondurable categories posted gains.

Mining output decreased 0.6% in April, largely because of an 18.1% decline in the index for coal mining. The output of utilities increased 2.8%.

Capacity utilization for manufacturing moved down 0.3 percentage point in April to 76.9 percent, a rate that is 1.3% points below its long-run average. The operating rate for mining fell 0.6 percentage point to 92.1%, while the operating rate for utilities increased 1.8 percentage points to 71.0 percent. The rate for mining was 5.6 percentage points above its long-run average, while the rate for utilities remained substantially below its long-run average.