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Sharp-eyed RealityChek readers have no doubt noticed my habit of noting that “final” versions of official U.S. economic data are typically final only “for now.” That’s because Washington’s statistics gathering agencies, to their credit, look back regularly on several years’ worth of figures to see where updates are needed because new information has come in, and this morning, the Federal Reserve released its own such “benchmark” revision of its manufacturing production data.

The results don’t contain any earthshaking changes, but they do alter the picture of domestic industry’s inflation-adjusted growth during the pandemic period, as well as of the performance of specific sectors, in non-trivial ways.

The main bottom lines: First, the Fed previously estimated that U.S.-based manufacturers had increased their constant dollar production from February, 2020 (the month before the CCP Virus’ arrival in force began roiling the entire American economy) through last month, by 4.94 percent. Today, the Fed told us that the advance was just 4.12 percent.

Second, as a result, domestic industry has further to go in real terms to recover its all-time high than the central bank had judged. As of the last regular monthly industrial production increase, U.S.-based manufacturing was 2.41 percent smaller after inflation than in December, 2007 – still its peak. But the new figures show that these manufacturers are still three percent behind the after-inflation output eight-ball.

Third, and especially interesting given the recent, significant U.S. growth slowdown and distinct possibility of a recession before too long, the revisions add (though just slightly) to the evidence that the overall economy’s woes this year are indeed beginning to affect manufacturing. Before the revision, the Fed judged that real manufacturing output had expanded by 2.68 percent between last December and this May, and slipped by 0.07 percent between April and May. The new figures: 2.46 percent and -0.22 percent, respectively.

The virus-era downward revisions affected durable goods and nondurable goods industries alike. The previous price-adjusted growth figure for the former during the pandemic period was 6.31 percent. Now it’s pegged at 5.18 percent. For the latter, the downgrade was from 3.42 percent to 2.99 percent.

Before the revisions, of the twenty broadest sub-sectors of manufacturing tracked by the Fed, only five suffered inflation-adjusted production declines from immediate pre-pandemic-y February, 2020 through this May, and all were found in the nondurables super-category. They were miscellaneous non-durable goods (down 11.43 percent), textiles (down 3.80 percent), paper (2.33 percent), printing and related activities (1.89 percent), and petroleum and coal products (1.21 percent).

The new data show that the number of growth losers has expanded to eight;. Four sectors were added: fabricated metals products (down 1.30 percent), nonmetallic mineral products (1.06 percent), apparel and leather goods (off by 0.59 percent), and furniture and related products (0.17 percent). And petroleum and coal products’ contant dollar production was upgraded from a 1.21 percent decrease during the pandemic period to a 2.96 percent gain.

The names on the list of top five pandemic period growers remained the same, with after-inflation production actually improving in aerospace and miscellaneous transportation (from 18.99 percent to 19.69 percent), miscellaneous durable goods (from 11.41 percent to 12.43 percent), and machinery (from 6.29 percent to 6.52 percent). But real production gains were revised down in computer and electronics products (from 10.42 percent to 7.38 percent), and chemicals (from 8.48 percent to 7.55 percent).

In absolute tems, the biggest price-adjusted output upgrades were registered in miscellaneous nondurable goods (from an 11.43 pecent nosedive to a smaller drop of 7.56 percent), electrical equipment, appliances and components (from a 2.19 percent rise to one of 4.95 percent), the aforementioned petroleum and coal products sector, wood products (from a 5.24 percent increase to 6.45 percent), and plastics and rubber products (from 1.78 percent growth to 2.76 percent).

The biggest real production downgrades came in the printing sector (all the way from a 1.89 percent inflation-adjusted output shrinkage to one of 9.52 percent), apparel and leather goods (from a 4.59 percent real production rise to a 0.59 percent dip), nonmetallic mineral products (from 2.58 percent price-adjusted growth to a 1.06 percent decline), and the aforementioned computer and electronics product sector.

RealityChek has been following with special interest narrower sectors that have attracted unusual attention since the CCP Virus arrived, and the new industrial production revision shows that constant dollar output climbed by more than previously estimated in aircraft and parts (24.89 percent versus 19.08 percent) and medical equipment and supplies (14.48 percent versus 11.51 percent), and by less in semiconductors and other electronic components (22.48 percent versus 23.82 percent) and in pharmaceuticals and medicine (12.79 percent versus 14.78 percent).

These Fed revisions are hardly a reason to push the panic button about U.S. manufacturing. But because domestic industry’s fortunes during the pandemic era have been so closely tied to blazing hot demand for its products, it’s hardly great news to learn that with signs abounding of a slumping American economy, manufacturing is approaching this apparent downturn in less robust shape than thought as late as yesterday.