Last updateFri, 23 Jun 2017 4pm


U.S. Industrial Production Rose 0.5% in March

Industrial production increased 0.5% in March after moving up 0.1% in February. The increase in March was more than accounted for by a jump of 8.6% in the output of utilities—the largest in the history of the index—as the demand for heating returned to seasonal norms after being suppressed by unusually warm weather in February. Manufacturing output fell 0.4% in March.

For the first quarter as a whole, industrial production rose at an annual rate of 1.5%. At 104.1% of its 2012 average, total industrial production in March was 1.5% above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.4% in March to 76.1%, a rate that is 3.8% below its long-run (1972–2016) average. 

AGC: "Buy America" Could Push Materials Cost Up Further

Double-digit price increases for key construction materials pushed up construction costs in March, while the prices charged by contractors remained moderate, according to a new analysis of federal producer price data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

From March 2016 to March 2017, there was a 4.4% rise in the producer price index for goods used in construction. AGC warns that the “Buy America” provision currently being pushed in Washington could add to this increase. 

Texas Economy Forecast to Pick Up in 2017

Amid an energy sector recovery in the second half of 2016, the Texas economy is positioned to return to its long-term pace of growth this year. However, a significant change in oil prices or further weaknesses in manufacturing remain risks to the outlook, write Keith R. Phillips and Christopher Slijk in the latest issue of Southwest Economy.

“Although energy prices are not expected to rise significantly in 2017, optimism among energy company executives has surged, and drilling activity is expected to pick up.” 

U.S. Job Openings at Seven-Month High In February

The number of job openings in the U.S. was up slightly to 5.7 million on the last business day of February, the highest number since last July 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported this week. Job openings increased in a number of industries, with the largest changes occurring in health care and social assistance (+73,000), accommodation and food services (+66,000), and finance and insurance (+47,000). 

U.S. Manufacturing Employment Currently at 1941 Levels

“The glory days of manufacturing were the 1970s. Back then, over 19.5 million Americans earned their paycheck from factory work. It's been a fairly steady decline ever since. Today only 12.4 million workers remain in the industry,” CNNMoney reports.

“The reality is some of the jobs once done by human hands are now done by robots. U.S. manufacturing output is at an all-time high, but manufacturing employment remains subdued. It's come back a little since hitting a nadir of 11.5 million in 2009, but it's not even back to pre-crisis job levels, let alone the glory days.” 

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