Industrial production declined 0.1% in March after rising 0.1% in February, according to the Federal Reserve. In the first quarter, the industrial production index declined 0.3% at an annual rate. The index measures the output of the manufacturing, mining and electric and gas utilities industries.
Manufacturing production was flat in March after falling in January and February. The index for utilities increased by 0.2%. Mining output fell 0.8%.
Total industrial production increased by 2.8% in March, from the same month in 2018. Capacity use for the industrial sector in March fell 20 basis points to 78.8%, a rate that is 1 percentage point lower than its long-run average, between 1972 and 2018.
Market groups had mixed results in March. Nondurable consumer goods, business equipment, defense and space equipment and construction supplies recorded gains that were offset by losses in other market groups. The largest decline was in consumer durables. The indexes for all of its major categories decreased, with the biggest decline in automotive products.
Manufacturing output declined at an annual rate of 1.1% in the first quarter. Durables output fell in March. Wood products and motor vehicles and parts fell 2%, while primary metals and computer and electronic products rose 1%. Production of nondurables rose because of increases in the indexes for textile and product mills, petroleum and coal products and chemicals. The index decreased for other manufacturing segments, including publishing and logging, and remained below the level at the same time in 2018.
Utilities output increased by 0.2% in March. The output of natural gas utilities rose nearly 4%, and the output of electric utilities fell. Mining output decreased by 0.8% but increased 10.5% from the level in March 2018.
Capacity use for manufacturing fell 10 basis points to 76.4%, about 2 percentage points lower than its long-run average. The use rate for durable manufacturing fell, while capacity use rates were flat for nondurable manufacturing and other manufacturing, including publishing and logging. Capacity use for mining fell to 90.9% but remained above its long-run average of 87.1%. Use rates for utilities were flat at 79.9% and remained 5.5 percentage points below its long-run average.