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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press A group of workers at the C.C. Filson Co. manufacturing facility in Seattle work at their sewing machines. On Monday, the Federal Reserve reported factory production was up 0.2 percent in September.

Monday, October 17, 2016 10:02 pm

Slight growth in manufacturing


WASHINGTON – U.S. manufacturers boosted output modestly last month, led by greater production of construction supplies, autos and petroleum products.

Factory production rose 0.2 percent in September, following a decline of 0.5 percent in the previous month, the Federal Reserve said Monday. The broader industrial production category, which includes mining and utilities, ticked up 0.1 percent.

Factories have been hit by several headwinds: weak business spending on machinery, a strong dollar that has made goods more expensive overseas, and sharp cutbacks in oil and gas drilling that have lowered demand for pipeline and other supplies.

Manufacturing output showed signs of life in June and July but then fell back sharply in August.

"While better than the August data which pointed to significant weakness, the September results still only point to a manufacturing sector struggling to grow at an anemic pace," said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.

Mining output rose 0.4 percent last month, though it has fallen 9.4 percent in the past year. Utility production fell 1 percent.

With manufacturing production weak in the past year, factories have shed 47,000 jobs.

Other reports suggest there is hope factories are slowly recovering. A private survey found manufacturers boosted production and saw a rise in new orders last month, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group.