Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization - G.17

Industrial Production Explanatory Notes

Coverage. The industrial production (IP) index measures the real output of the manufacturing, mining, and electric and gas utilities industries; the reference period for the index is 2012. Manufacturing consists of those industries included in the North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS, definition of manufacturing plus those industries-logging and newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishing-that have traditionally been considered to be manufacturing and included in the industrial sector. For the period since 1997, the total IP index has been constructed from 299 individual series based on the 2012 NAICS codes. These individual series are classified in two ways: (1) market groups, and (2) industry groups. Market groups consist of products and materials. Total products are the aggregate of final products, such as consumer goods and equipment, and nonindustrial supplies (which are inputs to nonindustrial sectors). Materials are inputs in the manufacture of products. Major industry groups include three-digit NAICS industries and aggregates of these industries-for example, durable and nondurable manufacturing, mining, and utilities. A complete description of the market and industry structures, including details regarding series classification, relative importance weights, and data sources, is available.

Source Data. On a monthly basis, the individual indexes of industrial production are constructed from two main types of source data: (1) output measured in physical units, and (2) data on inputs to the production process, from which output is inferred. Data on physical products, such as tons of steel or barrels of oil, are typically obtained from private trade associations and from government agencies; data of this type are used to estimate monthly IP wherever possible and appropriate. Production indexes for a few industries are derived by dividing estimated nominal output (calculated using unit production or sales and unit values) by a corresponding Fisher price index; the most notable of these fall within the high-technology grouping and include semiconductors. When suitable data on physical product are not available, estimates of output are based on production-worker hours by industry. Data on hours worked by production workers are collected in the monthly establishment survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The factors used to convert inputs into estimates of production are based on historical relationships between the inputs and the comprehensive annual data used to benchmark the IP indexes; these factors also may be influenced by technological or cyclical developments. The annual data used in benchmarking the individual IP indexes are constructed from a variety of source data, such as the quinquennial Censuses of Manufactures and Mineral Industries and the Annual Survey of Manufactures, prepared by the Bureau of the Census; the Minerals Yearbook, prepared by the United States Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior; and publications of the Department of Energy.

Aggregation Methodology and Weights. The aggregation method for the IP index is a version of the Fisher-ideal index formula. (For a detailed discussion of the aggregation method, see the Federal Reserve Bulletins of February 1997 and March 2001.) In the IP index, series that measure the output of an individual industry are combined using weights derived from their proportion in the total value-added output of all industries. The IP index, which extends back to 1919, is built as a chain-type index since 1972. The current formula for the growth in monthly IP (or any of the sub-aggregates) since 1972 is the geometic mean of the change in output (I), and, as can be seen below, is computed using the unit value added estimate for the current month (pm) and the estimate for previous month:

Federal Reserve Statistical Release, G.17, Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization; a formula used to calculate the growth in monthly IP (or any of the sub-aggregates) since mid-1992

The IP proportions (typically shown in the first column of the relevant tables in the monthly G.17 release) are estimates of the industries' relative contributions to overall growth in the following year. For example, the relative importance weight of the motor vehicles and parts industry is about 6 percent. If output in this industry increased 10 percent in a month, then this gain would boost growth in total IP by 6/10 percentage point (0.06 x 10% = 0.6%). To assist users with calculations, the Federal Reserve's website provides supplemental monthly statistics that represent the exact proportionate contribution of a monthly change in a component index to the monthly change in the total index.

Timing. The first estimate of output for a month is published around the 15th of the following month. The estimate is preliminary (denoted by the superscript "p" in tables) and subject to revision in each of the subsequent five months as new source data become available. (Revised estimates are denoted by the superscript "r" in tables.) For the first estimate of output for a given month, about 67 percent of the source data (in value-added terms) are available; the fraction of available source data increases to 81 percent for estimates in the second month that the estimate is published, 93 percent in the third month, 96 percent in the fourth month, 99 percent in the fifth month, and 99 percent in the sixth month. Data availability by data type in early 2011 is summarized in the table below:

Availability of Monthly IP Data in Publication Window

Percent of value added in 2011
Type of Data
Month of estimate
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Physical product  27  41  53  55  58  58
Production-worker hours   41   41   41   41   41   41
IP data received  67  81  93  96  99  99
IP data estimated  33  19  7  4  1  1

The physical product group includes series based on either monthly or quarterly data. As can be seen in the first row of the table, in the first month, a physical product indicator is available for about one-half of the series (in terms of value added) that ultimately are based on physical product data (27 percent out of a total of 58 percent). Of the 27~percent, about two-thirds (19 percent of total IP) include series that are derived from weekly physical product data and for which actual monthly data may lag up to several months. On average, quarterly product data are received for the fourth estimate of industrial production. Specifically, quarterly data are available for the third estimate of the last month of a quarter, the fourth estimate of the second month of a quarter, and the fifth estimate of the first month of a quarter.

Seasonal Adjustment.Individual series are seasonally adjusted using Census X-12 ARIMA. For series based on production-worker hours, the current seasonal factors were estimated with data through May 2015; for other series, the factors were estimated with data through at least March 2015. Series are pre-adjusted for the effects of holidays or the business cycle when appropriate. For the data since 1972, all seasonally adjusted aggregate indexes are calculated by aggregating the seasonally adjusted indexes of the individual series.

Reliability. The average revision to the level of the total IP index, without regard to sign, between the first and the fourth estimates was 0.27 percent during the 1987-2013 period. The average revision to the percent change in total IP, without regard to sign, from the first to the fourth estimates was 0.21 percentage point during the 1987-2013 period. In most cases (about 85 percent), the direction of the change in output indicated by the first estimate for a given month is the same as that shown by the fourth estimate.

Rounding.The published percent changes are calculated from unrounded indexes, and may not be the same as percent changes calculated from the rounded indexes shown in the release.

References. The annual revision published in June 2010 is described in an article published in the Federal Reserve Bulletin, available on the Board's website. A summary of the annual revision that incorporated back to 1972 production and capacity indexes reclassified according to the North American Industry Classification System is available in an article in the Federal Reserve Bulletin, vol. 89 (April 2003), pp.151-76. A description of the aggregation methods for industrial production and capacity utilization is included in an article in the Federal Reserve Bulletin, vol. 83 (February 1997), pp. 67-92. The Federal Reserve methodology for constructing industry-level measures of capital is detailed in "Capital Stock Estimates for Manufacturing Industries: Methods and Data" by Mike Mohr and Charles Gilbert (1996) by Mike Mohr and Charles Gilbert (1996),

Industrial Production—1986 Edition contains a more detailed description of the other methods used to compile the industrial production index, plus a history of its development, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography. The major revisions to the IP indexes and capacity utilization since 1990 have been described in the Federal Reserve Bulletin (April 1990, June 1990, June 1993, March 1994, January 1995, January 1996, February 1997, February 1998, January 1999, March 2000, March 2001, March 2002, April 2003, Winter 2004, Winter 2005, March 2006, May 2007, August 2008, August 2009) or in online staff studies (April 2011, February 2014 (for March 30, 2012 revision), February 2014 (for March 22, 2013 revision)).

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Last update: July 21, 2015