The latest Federal Reserve report showed manufacturing output in the U.S. climbed 0.9% last month, its third consecutive monthly gain of about 1%—or 7.9% above its year-earlier level. The production index for durable goods advanced 1.7% in May, as most major categories of durables strengthened. Sizable gains were recorded for wood products, primary metals, fabricated metal products, machinery, motor vehicles and parts, and furniture and related products.
The index for nondurable manufacturing was unchanged in May. Losses in chemicals, petroleum and coal products, and apparel and leather offset increases elsewhere. The largest gains among the major categories of nondurables were for printing and support, which advanced 1.7%, and for textile and product mills, which increased 1.4%.
In May, mining output edged down 0.2%, and capacity utilization edged down to 90.6%, a rate 3.1 percentage points above its average for the period from 1972 to 2009. The small loss in mining production mainly reflected declines in coal mining and in stone, sand, and gravel quarrying. The output of utilities climbed 4.8%, and capacity utilization for utilities increased 3.7 percentage points to 81%, a rate 5.6 percentage points below its average for the period from 1972 to 2009.
The capacity utilization rate for total industry in May rose 1% to 74.7%, a rate 6.2 percentage points above the rate from a year earlier but 5.9 percentage points below its average from 1972 to 2009.
The output of nearly all major market groups rose in May, the Federal Reserve report showed. The production of consumer goods increased 1.2%, boosted by higher output of both consumer durables and nondurables. Within consumer durables, which jumped 2.6%, large gains in the indexes for automotive products, home electronics, and miscellaneous goods were only slightly offset by a small loss in the index for appliances, furniture, and carpeting. The production of consumer nondurable goods moved up 0.8%, with the output of non-energy nondurables rising 0.5%. All of the major categories for that index recorded increases except chemical products, which fell 1.1%. The output of consumer energy products moved up 1.6%, with gains in all of its components other than automotive gasoline, which fell sharply.
The output of business equipment rose 1.3% in May, a pace on par with the average monthly gain during the previous two months and somewhat above its average increase earlier in the recovery. The output of transit equipment climbed 2.5% following a decrease of 1.6% in April. The increase in May primarily resulted from higher output of trucks, which more than offset losses in civilian aircraft.
Elsewhere in business equipment, the index for information processing equipment rose 0.9%, and the index for industrial and other equipment increased 1.2%. The output indexes for both of these categories have advanced substantially since last fall; gains in semiconductor manufacturing equipment and construction machinery have contributed significantly to the improvement in the industrial and other equipment category.
View the full Federal Reserve May U.S. industrial report online.