Manufacturing Output Fell Slightly in December

Industrial production fell 0.1 percent in December following strong gains in October and November. Despite the small setback, output remains slightly above the December 2019 level (see first chart). Over the past year, total industrial output is still up 3.7 percent.

Capacity utilization decreased 0.1 points to 76.5 percent from 75.6 percent in November, matching the December 2019 level (see first chart). Total capacity utilization remains well below the long-term (1972 through 2020) average of 79.6 percent.

Manufacturing output – about 76 percent of total output – posted a 0.3 percent decrease for the month, following back-to-back gains in October and November (see first chart). Manufacturing output is 1.3 percent above its December 2019 level (see first chart) and is up 3.5 percent from a year ago.

Manufacturing utilization fell 0.2 points to 77.0 percent, above the December 2019 level of 75.6 percent (see first chart). However, manufacturing utilization remains below its long-term average of 78.2 percent and well below the 1994-95 high of 84.7 percent.

Mining output accounts for about 12 percent of total industrial output and posted a robust 2.0 percent increase last month (see top of second chart). Over the last 12 months, mining output is up 11.0 percent.

Utility output, which is typically related to weather patterns and is also about 12 percent of total industrial output, decreased 1.5 percent for the month (see top of second chart). From a year ago, utility output is down 3.4 percent.

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