Industrial production rose 1.1 percent in February following a decline of 0.3 percent in January, according to the most recent Industrial Production Report released by the Federal Reserve. Manufacturing production increased 1.2 percent in February, its largest gain since October. Mining output jumped 4.3 percent, mostly reflecting strong gains in oil and gas extraction.
Pantheon Economics Chief Economist Ian Sheperdson told the Associated Press, “The big picture in this report is that the manufacturing upswing is back on track.”
The index for utilities fell 4.7 percent, as warmer-than-normal temperatures last month reduced the demand for heating. At 108.2 percent of its 2012 average, total industrial production in February was 4.4 percent higher than it was a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector climbed 0.7 percentage point in February to 78.1 percent, its highest reading since January 2015 but still 1.7 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2017) average.
On the employment front, the U.S. Labor Department reported that job openings hit a record high in January. The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed that job openings surged nearly 16 percent in January compared with the same month last year.
RDQ Economics Chief Economist John Ryding told the Associated Press, “There is now a record 0.94 job openings per unemployed person.”