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Manufacturing Finishes 2013 on Strong Note, May Indicate Economic Recovery

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The Federal Reserve Board announced the year-end growth numbers for the manufacturing sector this week. They reported positive gains for the industry overall, as well as many specific sectors within the industry. Manufacturing production rose .4 percent in December, following .6 percent gains for the months of October and November, marking the fifth straight month with positive gains after a lull during the spring. Capacity utilization in manufacturing was also on the rise throughout 2013, up 75.5 percent in July, 76.9 percent in November, and ending the year up 77.2 percent for December. Nondurable goods had a better December than durable goods. Nondurable goods rose .9 percent compared to a .1 percent growth for durable goods. Year over year, durable goods showed the most growth, with 4.1 percent, compared to the nondurable goods growth of just 1.3 percent. 

Within the sectors of manufacturing, printing and support grew the strongest during December at 1.9 percent, followed by motor vehicle and parts manufacturing growth of 1.6 percent. Electronic equipment and appliances were up by 1.4 percent, while primary metals grew 1.4 percent, and food, beverages, and tobacco products grew by 1.2 percent. Apparel and leather grew 1.1 percent, while petroleum and coal were up .9 percent, and chemicals rose by .8 percent. 

For the year, furniture and related products experiences the greatest gains at 9.4 percent, followed by the automotive industry, which grew by 7.2 percent. Fabricated metal products rose by 4.5 percent, computer and electronics gained 4.3 percent, and the aerospace and miscellaneous transportation was up 3.8 percent. Wood products rose by 3.8 percent, while plastics and rubber products gained 3.7 percent. Petroleum and coal went up by 3.1 percent, and electronic equipment and appliances gained 3 percent for the year. 

According to the report, confidence is high across the manufacturing industry, after the final three quarters brought overall gains. Manufacturers remain upbeat about the 2014 year, many believing that the strength of the manufacturing industry could indicate that the U.S. economy is finally pulling out of the economic recession. 

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