Industrial production rose 0.3 percent in March after having dropped 0.7 percent in February. For the first quarter as a whole, output declined at an annual rate of 0.1 percent after edging up at a rate of 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Manufacturing production rose 0.1 percent in March. Factory output was held down by a large decline in the output of motor vehicles and parts; a shortage of motor vehicle parts that resulted from a strike at a parts manufacturer idled a number of motor vehicle assembly plants.
Outside of motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing production moved up 0.4 percent after having fallen 0.5 percent in February. In March, the output of mines increased 0.9 percent, and the output of utilities advanced 1.9 percent.
At 112.1 percent of its 2002 average, total industrial production was 1.6 percent above its year-earlier level. The capacity utilization rate for total industry in March rose 0.2 percentage point, to 80.5 percent.
The following is an analysis from Thomas J. Duesterberg, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, regarding the industrial production report for March 2008:
Although manufacturing output increased by 0.1 percent in March, it declined in the first quarter by 0.5 percent on an annual basis, confirming a mild recession that started in the fall of 2007,"said Thomas J. Duesterberg, president and CEO of Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "The decline is led by housing-related sectors such as construction supplies (down 6.8 percent on an annual basis) and appliances and furniture (down 7.9 percent), and by the strike-weakened auto sector (down 5.3 percent).
"Business equipment, led by the information processing sector, and by the strong aerospace sector (up 7.2 percent ), managed to grow at a 4.4 percent annual rate in the quarter, showing that strength from exports and some signs of life in business investment may keep the recession a mild one until growth returns."