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US industrial production growth slows, up 0.4% in August

The slight uptick followed gains of 3.5% in July and 6.1% in June, when the industrial sector knocked down by the pandemic began to rebound.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Wednesday, May 13, 2020 file photo, Ford Motor Co. employees work a ventilator at the Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti Township, Mich. The plant was converted into a ventilator factory, as hospitals battling the coronavirus report shortages of the life-saving devices. According to the Institute for Supply Management, U.S. manufacturing rebounded in June 2020 as major parts of the country opened back up, ending three months of contraction in the sector caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial production slowed to a modest increase of 0.4% in August, far weaker than the strong bounce back recorded in previous months when factories were coming back to life.

The slight uptick followed gains of 3.5% in July and 6.1% in June, when the industrial sector knocked down by the pandemic began to rebound.

For August, manufacturing rose 1% but mining, which includes oil and gas exploration, fell 2.5%, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. Production at the nation's utilities was off 0.4%.

It's the fourth consecutive monthly increase after COVID-19 sent production plunging in March and April. But even with the gains over the summer, industrial production remains 7.3% below where it was in February, right before economic activity seized up in the pandemic.

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Manufacturing last month was clipped by a decline in output at auto factories, though there were broad-based increases in industries that make other types of durable goods.

Declines in the mining sector reflected sharp but temporary drops in oil and gas drilling when Tropical Storm Marco and Hurricane Laura forced energy companies to shutter operations in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. industry operated at 71.4% of capacity in August, 10.3 percentage points above its trough in April, but still 8 percentage points below its long-run average.

Credit: Ford Motor Company
Operators and assemblers assemble medical face shields. Ford Motor Company, in cooperation with the UAW, will assemble more than 100,000 critically needed plastic face shields per week at a Ford manufacturing site to help medical professionals, factory workers and store clerks.

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