Incorporating revisions going back to 2015, the Federal Reserve’s new March industrial production figures showed that inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing output growth has been even weaker recently than previously reported slowed substantially.
Annual constant dollar production for 2015, 2016, and 2017 were downgraded by 1.1 percentage points, 0.4 percentage points, and 0.3 percentage points, respectively. Leading industry down was the durable goods super-sector, where annual price-adjusted production was judged worse during these years by 1.3 percentage points, 1.2 percentage points, and 0.5 percentage points, respectively.
One silver lining: Manufacturing’s overall poor recent performance has helped produce strong year-on-year after-inflation growth figures for 2018, including a 3.25 percent March read that was the best annual gain since June, 2012’s 3.73 percent.
The new figures dragged inflation-adjusted manufacturing output down to 3.27 percent below its pre-recession peak – achieved more than eleven years ago, at the end of 2007. This March’s constant-dollar sequential production gain was a meager 0.07 percent. Recent monthly revisions were positive for February but negative for January.
Here are the manufacturing highlights of the Federal Reserve’s release on March industrial production:
>The big story in today’s new Federal Reserve industrial production figures were the annual revisions, which revealed that U.S. domestic manufacturing’s growth in recent years has been even slower than reported.
>According to the Fed, after-inflation manufacturing output for 2015, 2016, and 2017 was lower by 1.1 percent points, 0.4 percentage points, and 0.3 percentage points than previously reported.
>The revisions were even worse for the manufacturing’s durable goods super-sector – which accounts for more than half of industry’s production. It’s real annual output was judged to be 1.3 percentage points, 1.2 percentage points, and 0.5 percentage points lower than previously reported during this period.
>The reduced 2017 constant dollar output figures in particular, however, have helped produce strong yearly production growth in manufacturing so far this year, as March’s 3.25 percent annual inflation-adjusted output growth the sector’s best such performance since June, 2012’s 3.73 percent.
>Between the previous Marches, constant-dollar manufacturing output rose by just 0.64 percent.
>Nonetheless, the negative revisions mean that price-adjusted U.S. manufacturing production is now 3.27 percent below the level it hit just before the last recession hit – more than eleven years ago, at the end of 2007. As of the Fed’s last pre-annual revision monthly production report (for February), industry was only 1.49 percent smaller in price-adjusted terms than at the recession’s onset.
>Despite this annual performance, after-inflation manufacturing output edged up by only 0.07 percent sequentially in March.
>February’s robust monthly real growth was revised up from 1.27 percent to 1.51 percent – its best such performance since July, 2009’s 1.61 percent – at the very beginning of the current recovery.
>Although its 2015-2017 was unimpressive, the durable goods sector has fared well this year, too.
>Its March monthly growth was a solid 0.39 percent, and February’s blistering 1.78 percent figure was revised up to 1.84 percent – the biggest such increase since May, 2010’s two percent.
>One recent blot on the durable goods’ 2018: January’s monthly output change was revised down for a second time – from a 0.18 percent decline to a 0.25 percent drop-off.
>Durable goods production has shone this year on an annual basis, too. The March 3.82 percent upsurge in price-adjusted terms was the strongest such performance since July, 2014’s 5.79 percent.
>Between the previous Marches, real durable goods production improved by only 1.23 percent.
>After inflation, durable goods production is now 1.20 percent above its December, 2007 pre-recession peak.
>Real production in the non-durable goods sector for the 2015-17 period as a whole was revised down, too, but not as significantly as in durables or manufacturing as a whole. Annual production for 2015 and 2017 by 0.8 percentage points and 0.1 percentage points, respectively. But real output was revised up by 0.4 percentage points for 2016.
>In non-durables, a relatively poor 2017 has helped produce much better 2018 annual growth. March’s year-on-year output increased by 2.67 percent in real terms – its best such performance since June, 2010’s 2.98 percent. Between the previous Marches, inflation-adjusted non-durable goods production rose only fractionally.
>On a monthly basis, however, non-durable goods’ real output slipped by 0.27 percent. Yet February’s previously recorded 0.71 percent sequential improvement was upgraded to 1.16 percent – the best such performance since October’s 2.37 percent, which reflected a rebound from hurricane-related setbacks suffered by many key sectors highly concentrated near the Gulf of Mexico.
>Still, the non-durables super-sector continues to struggle to recover from the Great Recession. Its real output remains 8.45 percent below its pre-downturn peak, hit in July, 2007.