Hot Sector: Manufacturing Output Increases

Second Straight Month Manufacturing Has Risen

Manufacturing SectorOverall U.S. factory production rose 0.5% last month, continuing a trend of growth after a slow and harsh winter, according to a report released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. Manufacturers produced more furniture, clothing and other products in March.

It’s the second straight month manufacturing has risen, with output jumping 1.4% in February. Production had dropped by .9% in January, thanks to weather-related slowdowns. Over the last 12 months, manufacturing has seen solid growth, with a 2.8% increase in output.

“The U.S. economy is now showing its true colors after the weakness triggered by the bleakest of winters,” Paul Dales, senior economist with Capital Economics, told the Associated Press. “There is scope for production to rise rapidly in the coming months too.”

The production of consumer goods rose 0.7% in March, bringing first-quarter gains to 4.5%. Clothing production jumped 3.3 percent; the output of furniture, appliances and carpeting gained 2%. After having registered gains of at least 1% in February, the indexes for the two major categories of nonindustrial supplies posted slower increases last month: Construction supplies were up just 0.2%, and business supplies rose 0.6%. For the first quarter, however, output of business supplies had jumped 5.3%.

The production of materials requiring further processing in the industrial sector was up 0.9% last month, increasing by 4.7% for the first quarter of the year. Every major component of materials recorded gains in March, according to the Federal Reserve report. Textile materials jumped 4.5% in March, the largest increase among nondurable materials.