Industrial production declined 0.3% in December, as a decrease of 5.6% for utilities outweighed increases of 0.2% for manufacturing and 1.3% for mining, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve.
For the fourth quarter as a whole, total industrial production moved down at an annual rate of 0.5%. At 109.4% of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 1% lower in December than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector fell 0.4% in December to 77%, a rate that is 2.8% below its long-run (1972–2018) average.
Manufacturing output increased 0.2% in December but decreased at an annual rate of 1.0% in the fourth quarter. The gain in December came despite a decrease of 4.6% for motor vehicles and parts; assemblies of light motor vehicles fell from 11.2 million units (annual rate) in November to 10.3 million units in December. Excluding the motor vehicle sector, factory output rose 0.5%. The index for durable goods manufacturing slipped 0.2%, as the decrease for motor vehicles outweighed widespread increases in other industries. The index for nonmetallic mineral products advanced 2.3% for the largest gain among durables. The production of nondurables moved up 0.6%, led by increases of more than 1% for petroleum and coal products and for food, beverage, and tobacco products. The output of other manufacturing (publishing and logging) decreased 0.2%. Mining output rose 1.3%, with most of the gain from oil and gas extraction; the index for mining rose at an annual rate of about 2% in the fourth quarter to reverse a similarly sized decrease in the third quarter.
Capacity utilization for manufacturing edged up 0.1% in December to 75.2%, about 3.1% below its long-run average. The utilization rate for mining increased to 89.6%, remaining above its long-run average of 87.1%. The operating rate for utilities fell to 73.5%, a rate that is about 12% below its long-run average.