WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. industrial production rose last month for the first time since November as chillier weather kept utiliities busy and an uptick in auto production pushed manufacturing output higher. The economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak was not apparent in the February numbers.
The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that industrial production — including factories, utiliities and mines — rose 0.6% in February, reversing drops in December and January. Industrial production has been flat over the past year.
Manufacturing production rose 0.1% as busier auto plants offset a drop in production of civilian aircraft, reflecting Boeing's decision to suspend production of the troubled 737 Max airliner. Factory production is still down 0.4% from February 2019.
Utility output shot up 7.1% as unseasonably warm January gave way to colder weather last month. Mining output slid 1.5% but is up 2.1% over the past year.
American industry is bracing for the impact of COVID-19, which is bringing ordinary economic life to a near halt as people isolate themselves, airlines cancel flights and public events are called off. On Monday, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that manufacturing activity in New York state dropped this month to the lowest level since the recession year 2009.