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Economy in Brief

U.S. Industrial Production Declines Unexpectedly
by Tom Moeller  June 15, 2015

Overall industrial output fell 0.2% during May (+1.4% y/y) following a 0.5% drop in April, initially reported as -0.3%. A 0.2% rise in production had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Manufacturing sector production eased 0.2% (+1.8% y/y) following a 0.1% uptick, revised from no change. Mining output fell 0.3% (-7.2% y/y), the seventh decline in the last eight months. Utility output improved 0.2% (1.3% y/y) after a 3.7% drop.

Within the factory sector, automotive products production rose 1.9% (8.8% y/y), the third firm gain in a row. Appliance, furniture & carpeting output eased 0.3% (+3.3% y/y) following a 2.2% rise. Business equipment production increased 0.3% (2.0% y/y) following a 0.1% slip. Transit equipment output gained 0.6% (3.5% y/y) after a 0.1% uptick. In the nondurables sector, clothing output remained unchanged (2.3% y/y) after a 0.3% rise. Chemical product manufacturing declined 0.5% (+2.4% y/y), the third decline this year.

The special aggregate series indicated that production in high technology industries increased 0.4% (-0.1% y/y) after a 0.5% rise. Computers & office equipment output increased 0.8% (7.7% y/y) and communications equipment production gained 0.4% but was unchanged y/y. Factory sector production excluding the high-tech sector fell 0.2% (+1.9% y/y) after a 0.1% uptick. Manufacturing production excluding both high-tech and autos was off 0.3% (1.5% y/y) after remaining unchanged.

The capacity utilization rate fell to 78.1% and remained below the recovery high of 79.8% reached in November. Mining sector utilization plunged to 83.3%, the lowest level since early 2011. In the factory sector, the capacity utilization rate slipped to 77.0%, down from 78.1% in November. Total industry capacity rose 2.8% y/y while factory sector capacity increased 2.0% y/y.

Industrial production and capacity data are included in Haver's USECON database, with additional detail in the IP database. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Industrial Production (SA, % Change) May Apr Mar May Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total Output -0.2 -0.5 0.0 1.4 4.2 2.9 3.8
Manufacturing -0.2 0.1 0.3 1.8 3.5 2.7 4.1
    Consumer Goods -0.3 -0.9 1.0 2.0 2.8 2.4 1.7
    Business Equipment 0.2 -0.1 0.4 2.0 5.2 3.6 7.5
    Construction Supplies -0.3 0.6 -1.6 1.9 4.2 4.2 4.6
  Materials -0.1 -0.4 -0.1 1.7 5.1 3.2 4.5
Utilities 0.2 -3.7 - 1.8 1.3 1.3 2.1 -2.1
Capacity Utilization (%) 78.1 78.3 78.8 79.1 79.1 78.0 77.3
 Manufacturing 77.0 77.2 77.2 77.1 77.2 76.1 75.5
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