The latest Federal Reserve industrial production report showed that, after inflation, U.S. manufacturing output inched back up in March, but revisions for February and January kept its levels down below November’s figures. Although the automotive sector – a manufacturing leader for most of the current recovery – saw real production rise for the first time in four months, the sector remained in a technical recession, along with durable goods industries overall. Steel has emerged as another worry, with foreign dumping crippling its output, and overall, the manufacturing sector has grown by only 2.15 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since the last recession began.
Here are the manufacturing highlights of the Federal Reserve’s new release on March industrial production:
>This morning, the Federal Reserve reported that inflation-adjusted American manufacturing production in March posted its first monthly increase since December, but feeble growth and downward revisions left its output levels down on net since November (by 0.68 percent).
>Real manufacturing output advanced by 0.13 percent on month in March, and February’s 0.24 percent sequential drop was revised up to a 0.22 percent decrease. Yet January’s 0.27 percent decline was revised down to 0.59 percent.
>March’s small manufacturing rebound was led by the automotive sector, whose real production rose by 3.22 percent on a monthly basis – its first improvement since November. But February’s fall-off was revised down from three percent to 3.55 percent, and January’s decline was revised down for the second straight time, from 0.61 percent to 0.71 percent..
>Largely because of these figures, both the automotive industry and the durable goods sector saw their technical recessions continue. Inflation-adjusted production for both is now down on net since July.
>Overall manufacturing and durable goods output was also undermined the steel sector, which has recently been targeted by a massive foreign dumping campaign. Inflation-adjusted iron and steel output plunged 5.23 percent in March on a monthly basis, and is now down 12.36 percent year on year. In fact, real production in the sector is now down on net for more than five years – since February, 2010.
>The new March figures mean that inflation-adjusted overall U.S. manufacturing output is only 2.15 percent higher than it was when the Great Recession in December, 2007 – more than seven years ago.
>Non-durable goods production, long a manufacturing laggard, rose for the fifth straight month in March, though the increase (0.07 percent) trailed that for durable goods (0.17 percent).
>Sluggish March growth depressed manufacturing’s year-on-year gains from a downwardly revised 5.10 percent in January to 2.70 percent. Between March, 2013 and March, 2014, inflation-adjusted manufacturing output increased by 3.13 percent.
>Including the February data, durable goods output is now 8.92 percent greater in inflation-adjusted terms than at the December, 2007 start of the last recession.
>Real non-durable goods production is now 5.74 percent less after inflation than at its pre-recession peak, which was hit in July, 2007.