INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION AND CAPACITY UTILIZATION
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION AND CAPACITY UTILIZATION
Industrial production increased 0.4 percent in May after having risen 0.7 percent in both March and April. The output of utilities increased 1.4 percent, while output for both manufacturing and mining increased 0.3 percent. At 144.2 percent of its 1992 average, industrial production in May was 5.8 percent higher than in May 1999. The rate of capacity utilization for total industry held steady at 82.1 percent, a level about even with the 1967-99 average.
The output of consumer goods decreased 0.1 percent in May, pulled down by a 0.4 percent decline in the production of durable consumer goods; the production of nondurable consumer goods was unchanged. Among durable consumer goods, the production of automotive products fell back 0.2 percent after having risen sharply in April. In recent months, the index for automotive products has, on balance, fluctuated in a range close to the high level reached in mid-1999. The output of other consumer durables fell 0.7 percent in May after having increased an average of 0.8 percent per month for the previous two months; declines in the production of appliances and television sets and of carpeting and furniture more than offset a 2.7 percent increase in the output of computers. Among nondurable consumer goods, a rise in the production of energy products--fuels and residential utilities--was offset by a small decline in the production of other nondurables, such as foods and tobacco, clothing, and consumer chemicals. The production of nondurable nonenergy consumer goods has, on balance, been little changed since reaching its recent peak in the fourth quarter of 1999.
The production of business equipment rose 0.7 percent in May as another increase in the output of information processing and related equipment was partly offset by declines in the production of other types of equipment. The production of industrial equipment edged down; the index has leveled off after having registered strong gains around the turn of the year. The output of transit equipment decreased a bit again, pulled down by continued declines in the production of commercial aircraft and a fall in the production of light trucks. The production of other equipment, which had risen an average of 3.7 percent per month during the previous three months, fell back 2.9 percent in May; the recent swings in output in this sector largely reflect changes in the production of farm machinery and equipment. The production of defense and space equipment increased 1.1 percent, a gain helped in part by the end of a strike at a military aircraft manufacturer.
The production of construction supplies, which had increased an average of 0.9 percent per month in the first quarter, was unchanged in April and decreased 0.6 percent in May, with widespread declines in the underlying industries. In contrast, the output of materials was up another 0.7 percent in May. The output of durable goods materials rose 1.1 percent, with another strong increase in equipment parts, particularly semiconductors. The output of energy materials rose 0.5 percent. The production of nondurable goods materials fell 0.5 percent and has retreated noticeably, on balance, after having peaked late last year.
Manufacturing output rose 0.3 percent in May and was led by gains in the production of durable goods; the production of nondurable goods, which had risen sharply in the fourth quarter, has been little changed since the end of last year. Among durable goods, continued increases in the production of high-technology goods accounted for the overall gain. Production in nondurable manufacturing edged down 0.2 percent in May, to a level 1.4 percent higher than in May 1999. Among nondurable manufacturing industries, the only noticeable output increases occurred in the printing and petroleum products industries. The factory operating rate edged down to 81.2 percent and remained close to its 1967-99 average. Utilization in primary-processing industries fell to 83.5 percent, while that for advanced-processing industries moved up to 80.5 percent. Output at utilities, which had risen 2.6 percent in April, was up 1.4 percent in May; the operating rate at utilities rose to 91.3 percent. Production at mines increased 0.3 percent after having risen 0.4 percent in April. The utilization rate at mines increased to 85.7 percent but remained noticeably below its long-term average.
Note: The capacity indexes have been revised in this release beginning with February 2000. Although the capacity growth rates for some industries were revised noticeably, the estimate of overall capacity growth for 2000 was unchanged at 3.7 percent.
G.17 Release Tables: