Industrial production rose 0.4% in May after falling 0.4% in April, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve. At 109.6% of its 2012 average, total industrial production was 2% higher in May than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector moved up 0.2% in May to 78.1%, a rate that is 1.7% below its long-run (1972–2018) average.
Manufacturing output increased 0.2% in May after having decreased about 0.4% per month, on average, in the first four months of the year. In May, the production of durable goods rose 0.3%, while the output of nondurable goods edged up 0.1%. Among durables, gains of more than 1% were posted by wood products; machinery; electrical equipment, appliances, and components; and motor vehicles and parts. These increases were partially offset by decreases in primary metals and in aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment. Among nondurables, the only gain greater than 1% was recorded by plastics and rubber products, and the only decline greater than 1% was recorded by apparel and leather products. The index for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) decreased 0.9% last month; it has fallen 6.5% during the past 12 months.
The output of utilities increased 2.1% in May, with identically sized gains in the indexes for both natural gas and electric utilities. Mining output inched up 0.1% in May and was 10.0% above its level of a year earlier. The increase in the mining index for May reflected gains in oil and natural gas extraction that were mostly offset by a large decline for oil and gas well drilling.
Capacity utilization for manufacturing moved up 0.1% in May to 75.7%, a rate that is 2.6% below its long-run average. The utilization rates for durable and nondurable manufacturing were little changed, while the rate for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) slipped 0.4%. Capacity utilization for mining dipped to 91.3% but remained well above its long-run average of 87.1%. The operating rate for utilities jumped to 77.5%; even so, it was still about 8% below its long-run average.