February 22, 2021

U.S. Industrial Production Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels


  • According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. industrial production, which includes output at manufacturers, mines, and utilities, rose 0.9 percent in January following increases of 1.3 percent in December and 0.9 percent in November. While January’s reading was higher than most economists had predicted, it was 1.8 percent below production in January 2020. Manufacturing output rose one percent, mining increased 2.3 percent – even though oil and drilling is down 50.5 percent over the past year – and utility output fell 1.2 percent. Click here to read the full report.
  • As CTV News reported, manufacturing sales in Canada increased 0.9 percent in December to $54.2 billion in December due to record-high sales of wood products. Petroleum and coal product sales rose 4.7 percent to $4.2 billion and there was a 26.9 percent uptick in sales of railroad rolling stock.
  • After seven consecutive months of gains, wholesale sales in Canada fell 1.3 percent in December. The decline was largely the result of significantly lower sales of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts, machinery, equipment and supplies. Despite the decline, December’s sales were the third highest on record and were higher than pre-pandemic levels by three percent.
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, manufacturing business activity grew modestly in the state in February. The headline general business conditions index climbed nine points to 12.1, its highest level in several months, as new orders and shipments increased. Employment levels and the average workweek both increased. Click here to read the full report. The manufacturing sector in the Philadelphia region also has been relatively healthy this month. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its current activity remained positive for the ninth consecutive month but decreased three points to 23.1 in February. The survey’s current indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments declined from January’s readings but remained elevated. Employment increases were more widespread this month and future indexes moderated this month but continue to indicate that firms expect growth over the next six months. Click here to read the full report.
  • The number of new homes under construction in the United States fell six percent from December 2020 to January 2021 and was 2.3 percent below the January 2020 rate. Click here to read the full report. Existing-home sales, meanwhile, continued to increase in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million, up 0.6 percent from the prior month and 23.7 percent from one year ago.
  • The U.S. Producer Price Index for final demand increased 1.3 percent from December 2020 to January 2021, the largest monthly increase since the survey began in December 2009. The PPI was up 1.7 percent between January 2020 and January 2021.
  • Prices for U.S. imports increased 1.4 percent from December 2020 to January 2021, the largest one-month rise since March 2012. U.S. export prices increased 2.5 percent, the biggest advance since the index was first published in December 1988.
  • In other economic news: an advance report showed U.S. sales increased 5.9 percent from December 2020 to January 2021 and 10.7 percent from January 2020 to January 2021; retail sales in Canada plunged 3.4 percent to $53.4 billion in December – their largest decline since April 2020; Canada’s consumer price index increased 0.7 percent from December to January and one percent year-over-year.