Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization - G.17

Performance Evaluation of the Federal Reserve G.17 (419) Statistical Release — June 2014

IV. Data Publication and Availability

IV.A. Description of the Statistical Release, G17 (419)

The statistical release "Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization" is usually 19 pages. It provides timely monthly data on industrial production and capacity utilization on a regular schedule. The release includes a text summary of the latest changes in output and utilization by market group (IP) and by industry group (IP and utilization), special announcements, a summary table and related charts, and more detailed tables showing seasonally adjusted industrial production classified by market and industry groups. In addition, special analytical aggregates, such ones for as high-technology, energy, and motor vehicles, are shown; industries grouped into stage of processing are reported as well. (IP indexes for more detailed industries and market groups are available in the printable supplement to the G.17 on the Board's website; not seasonally adjusted indexes are available as well.) Indexes of capacity and capacity utilization also are presented, as is supplementary information on motor vehicle assemblies, the gross value of products, and diffusion indexes of IP.[3]

Supplements to the G.17 that described revisions were issued on March 30, 2012, March 22, 2013, and March 28, 2014. Subsequently, articles posted on the G.17 pages of the Board's website discussed the 2012 and 2013 revisions more extensively. No additional article on the 2014 annual revision will be prepared because the revision was relatively minor in scope and the supplement issued at the time of the revision was comprehensive; information for that revision will be combined with the article that describes the 2015 annual revision. Announcements about upcoming annual revisions to the G.17 appear at least three months before the publication of the revised data in each year. Besides the regular annual revisions, users are notified in the G.17 of any significant interim changes, such as any midyear updating of seasonal factors or capacity indexes; notifications are now also provided online via RSS feeds. For each annual revision, the new data and updated documentation were available at the time of issue on the website of the Federal Reserve Board.

IV.B. G.17 Webpage

The Federal Reserve Board's public website meets the requirements of section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (amended). Section 508 requires federal agencies to provide comparable access to persons with disabilities (both employees and members of the public) to electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the agency unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Electronic and information technology is broadly defined and covers web pages.

The webpage for the G.17 displays a release schedule for the current year with a link to the current release, a link to a page showing historical release dates back to 1947, and links to historical releases. In addition, below the heading near the top of this page that says "Industrial production and Capacity Utilization - G.17" are links to other main sections (or pages): the current release, the supplement to the G.17 with additional detail, the latest annual revision release, historical data files in text format, documentation, announcements, and the data download program.

Monthly IP releases are available starting in December 1997. Annual revision releases are available starting in January 1997. In addition to the current format of the G.17, which was introduced in February 2001, a supplemental release, which provides more detailed industry data, for each month is available. All of these releases are available in ASCII, and PDF formats. "Screen reader" versions (compliant with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, amended) are available for releases beginning with the one issued September 14, 2001.

Historical data may be downloaded from the Data Download Program (DDP) and the Historical data pages on the site. The DDP, inaugurated in 2006 and discussed above, allows the user to selectively download any of the statistics published in the G.17 using a variety of formats, including a comma-separated-value file (.csv), an Excel 2003 spreadsheet (.xls), or an Extensible Markup Language file (.xml) based on the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) schema. The user can also download predetermined packages, including one that includes all new or revised data in the latest G.17.

The Historical data pages provide text files of data, documentation on how to access the data, and information on file format and directions for loading the data into an Excel spreadsheet. Relative importance weights also are provided; users were given an example of their use in the "Aggregation Methodology and Weights" subsection of the Explanatory Note section of the release.

Seasonal factors for motor vehicle production also are available, as are past and prospective IP publication dates. Data and documentation relating to revisions to IP from initial to final (after five rounds of monthly updates and revisions) estimates are provided as well.

The Documentation page provides links to the articles related to most annual revisions since 1995. In addition, documentation on the methods and source data used to compile the industrial production and capacity utilization statistics are found on this page.

For each monthly production and capacity series, the series source and pertinent meta-data are detailed in tables listed under "Source and Description Information." This material is updated with each annual revision and appears as part 2 of a volume available with each revision.

The Source and Description tables are as follows: Table 1 covers the "Industry structure of industrial production: classification, value added weights, and description of series." For each series and NAICS industry group, the following attributes are shown: the industry name, the market and industry classifications, the value-added weights in 2011 dollars and as proportions of the total index, the type of data (product or production-worker hours), and the units of measure, source for the series, and the beginning date. Table 2, "Market structure of industrial production: classification and weights" shows the individual production series arranged by major market group. It includes 2011 value added in dollars and proportions for all series, as well as gross value weights in 2011 dollars for product series. Table 3, "Industry structure of capacity and capacity utilization: classification, value-added proportions, and description of series" shows sources used to compile each individual capacity index. Stage-of-processing classifications and starting dates for each capacity and utilization series are shown as well.

The explanatory note published as part of the release is also provided on the G.17 Documentation page. Moreover, its section on capacity and capacity utilization contains an expanded description of the methods used to construct the capacity indexes. Documentation regarding capital stock estimates, used in constructing the capacity figures, is available as well.

Several noteworthy features were added to the Board's electronic dissemination of the G.17 since 2011. First, a "Technical Q&A" section was added to the G.17 section of the Board's website in 2012. It includes answers to questions that users may pose that would be of interest to the broad user community. The primary focus of the questions has been the effect of storms and natural disasters on industrial production, but it also included information on the effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government in the fall of 2013 on the data flow for IP. Second, a table providing the specifications for seasonal adjustment of industrial production indexes was added to the on-line documentation for the G.17. Third, a table providing seasonal factors for sales of light vehicles was posted on the Board's website and updated annually. These seasonal factors are provided to the Bureau of Economic Analysis for use in the national income and product accounts. Fourth, tables with price indexes for selected communications equipment categories and for microprocessors are posted and regularly updated.

IV.C. Publication Statistics

Most of the inquiries for industrial production and capacity utilization data are electronic. From the Board's public website the link to the G.17 press release is During 2013, this G.17 webpage has averaged about 11,500 "unique page views" per month. In addition, the website offers the option of making outside inquiries via email. Over 2013, the G.17 averaged about 10 such contacts per month.

In addition, data for selected IP series (typically unpublished series) are sent via e-mail to about 20 users each month and the United Nations is provided with not seasonally adjusted and seasonally adjusted data on an ISIC (International Standard Industrial Classification) basis.

With the widespread availability of the G.17 release and its data in electronic form, the number of releases mailed for the public has continued to shrink and is now 10 per month (5 paid and 5 complimentary). Three years ago, 19 releases were mailed; more than 1,500 monthly G.17 releases were mailed to subscribers as few as 21 years ago.

IV.D. Release Schedule

The industrial production index is released in mid-month, typically at 9:15 a.m. A schedule is included in the explanatory note in the G.17. The only instance during the past three years when the G.17 was delayed beyond its scheduled date was in October 2013, when the partial government shutdown delayed the receipt of data necessary to estimate industrial production. Most importantly, the monthly labor report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a key element of the preliminary estimate of industrial production, was delayed 18 days until October 22, 2013. The G.17 that was originally scheduled to be released on October 17, 2013, was instead issued on October 28, 2013.

On only two other occasions (within memory) has the monthly release come out later than indicated in the preliminary schedule: (1) In January 1996, the release of the G.17, which had been scheduled for January 17, was delayed until January 24—a delay of one week. Budget stalemates had forced the closing of the BLS, which provided the data on production-worker hours. The release of the BLS employment report was delayed two weeks from January 5 to January 19. (2) In November 1987, the industrial production release was delayed because of a snowstorm. Some years ago the index had occasionally been issued early, when it was possible, prior to a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). In recent years, the publication schedule has been designed to take account of FOMC meetings.

The G.17 release is scheduled to be posted on the Board's website at 9:15 Eastern Time; related files are posted over the next few minutes. The posting of the release, or at least some of its files, have been delayed on two occasions within the past three years. The release on January 17, 2014, was delayed 15 minutes because of a miscommunication involving the staff who post the release on the public website. On April 16, 2014, the files used by the Data Download program did not include the latest month of data because a database reference in the program generating the file had not been modified after the issuance of the annual revision to the G.17 at the end of the previous month; corrected files were posted by 10:00 a.m. The only other problem in issuing the G.17 release in the past three years was that the text in the release published on March 16, 2012, contained an error; a corrected version was posted late that day.

Advance notices of the revision issued on March 30, 2012, appeared in the G.17 release published mid-month from November 2011 through March 2012, with the exact publication date being announced in January 2012.[4] Notices of the March 22, 2013, annual revision were in the G.17 releases published in September 2012 through March 2013, with the precise date being announced in February 2013. A notice of the March 28, 2014, revision was in the G.17 releases for December 2013 through March 2014, with the exact date being announced in February 2014.

IV.E. Inquiries about IP or Capacity Utilization

The Industrial Output Section receives outside requests for information about the index of industrial production or the rate of capacity utilization. Most requests come by e-mail or phone. These requests are generally for data, for interpretation of the data, or for information regarding other related statistics.

The requests for data frequently involve data availability and access. In a typical month, a few e-mails and outside phone calls are received on or near the day of release. Outside inquiries are often received between release dates from users wanting to know more about the structure and detail of the index; many of these requests are satisfied by directing users to information available on the G.17 website. Owing to the widespread availability of the data in public and private databases, these users typically have not seen the explanatory notes to the G.17 or the methodologies in previously published detailed material, such as Industrial Production--1986 Edition, with a Description of the Methodology or various relevant Federal Reserve Bulletin articles. For most questions, Industrial Output Section staff e-mail a response within a day. if a question is likely to be of broad interest, or if answering it requires use of information not yet made public, then the answer may be posted using the Technical Q&A section of the website.

[3] Not seasonally adjusted data for capacity, utilization, and the diffusion indexes are not available.
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[4] The initial notices for all three annual revisions since 2012 specified the release date as being in late March.
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Last update: June 27, 2014