US industrial production slips in September

Friday, October 16, 2020

U.S. industrial production fell by 0.6 percent in September, the weakest showing since spring and a sign that the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession may be faltering just as confirmed viral infections are resurging in much of the country.

The Federal Reserve reported Friday that industrial production suffered its first decline since a 12.7 percent drop in April during the spring lockdowns of businesses that paralyzed the economy. The key category that reflects manufacturing output fell by 0.3 percent. At the same time, mining output, which includes oil and gas exploration, fell by 5.6 percent. Production at utilities grew by 1.7 percent.

Last month’s reading on industrial production followed four straight increases that began in May after sharp declines in March and April. Industrial production has recovered more than half of its spring declines but remains 7.1% below its pre-pandemic level in February.

“Industrial output came in well below expectations, one of the first real signs that the recovery is losing momentum under the weight of the ongoing health crisis and fading support from fiscal relief,” Oxford Economics said in a research note.

Production of motor vehicles and parts fell for a second straight month, dropping by 4 percent after a 4.3 percent decline in August which had followed big increases after auto plants re-opened.

In September, industry operated at 71.5 percent of capacity, down from a reading of 77.4 percent of capacity a year ago.-AP