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Industrial production and capacity utilization.

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization

Released for publication on May 13

Industrial production edged up 0.1 percent in April, based on preliminary estimates, after having fallen a downward revised 0.6 percent in March. Production of motor vehicles rose again in April, with a jump in truck assemblies accounting for most of the gain. Outside of motor vehicles and parts, industrial production declined 0.2 percent. Total industrial capacity utilization decreased 0.2 percentage point to 78.3 percent. At 105.1 percent of its 1987 annual average, total industrial production in April was 3.4 percent below its year-ago level.

In market groups, production of consumer goods other than motor vehicles was little changed in both March and April. This firming in production, after four months of significant declines, mostly reflected gains in output of durable consumer goods, such as furniture, carpeting, and appliances. Output of nondurable consumer goods continued weak, with the largest decline in April in the output of consumer fuels. Production of business equipment other than motor vehicles fell 0.3 percent in April, as another sharp drop in industrial equipment was only partially offset by a small gain in information processing equipment. After having fallen sharply for the past eight months, the output of construction supplies apparently changed little in April, buoyed by improvements in lumber and related products.

Output of materials was unchanged in April after having fallen every month since last September. Much of the improvement resulted from increased production of parts for motor vehicles; the output of paper and textiles also moved up. However, in April, there were further declines in the production of metals and chemicals, and a drop in energy materials.

In industry groups, manufacturing output increased 0.2 percent in April, while production at mines fell sharply and output of utilities was little changed. The operating rate for manufacturing slipped to 77.1 percent, its lowest level since August 1983, when it was at 76 percent. Utilization for advanced processing industries held steady in April, while the rate for primary processing fell off slightly.

Production picked up in April for many manufacturing industries, including motor vehicles and parts, textiles, and furniture. Production of fabricated metal products, particularly those related to the motor vehicle industry, also rose in April after having declined for the past half-year. In addition, lumber output has changed little, on balance, since February, after falling, on average, nearly 2 percent a month between July and February. Among the many industries in which output continued to fall in April, primary metals production dropped 0.8 percent, its fifth straight monthly decline. Likewise, weakness was still apparent in the chemical industry, as well as in transportation equipment other than motor vehicles.

PHOTO : Industrial production indexes

PHOTO : Capacity and industrial production
COPYRIGHT 1991 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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Publication:Federal Reserve Bulletin
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:Diffusion indexes of industrial production.
Next Article:Richard F. Syron, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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