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Supply Chain News: US Manufacturing Recovery by Key Sectors


A Few Sectors at All-Time Production Highs in January, but 21 of 30 Sectors Saw Peaks in 2008 or Earlier

Feb. 29, 2016
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Supply Chain Digest Says...

21 of the 30 sectors we tracked had their all-time production peaks in May of 2008 or earlier. That says a lot right there about the current state of affairs.

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As SCDigest reported last week, total US manufacturing output across all sectors is still not back to pre-recesion levels, after the Federal Reserve adjusted its data in 2015. (See US Still not Back to 2007 Manufacturing Levels Eight Years Later).

Before that adjustment, the Fed's data showed that US manufacturing output at long last reached the average month in the then baseline year of 2007 in July of 2014, after which it stayed above that 100 for anotehr year until the Fed made its adjustments.

When the Fed changed the baseline year to 2012 from 2007 late last year, it also revised the data set, and somehow production over the last couple of years was then calculated to still actually be below 2007 levels, a year that thus remains the high mark for US manufacturing output nine years later. Amazing.


That is all shown again in the interactive chart  below.


That is really quite a shocker, indicative of both just how bad the Great Recession of 2008-09 really was and the rather lackluster pace of the recovery ever since.


But of course, there are dramatic differences in that story depending on the individual US manufacting sector.


SCDigest recently dove into the Federal Reserve's numbers, looking at about 30 different sectors - from automobiles to apparel - to see how each has fared historically and since the bottom of the Great Recession.


In the data, shown in the table below, we sorted that data based on how recently each sector was at its peak production, from most recent to the most dated.


So, for example three sectors - semiconductors, food, and medical devices - each saw their all-time peak output levels just last month, in January of 2016.

(See More Below)




Conversely, at the bottom of this ranking comes the apparel sector, which according to Fed data saw its peak output levels all the way back in January, 1986. That was actually the first year for the Fed data, so it is possible the apparel peak was even a bit earlier.


Another column in the chart show the change in each sector's January reading relative to its all-time peak. So, for example, as can be seen the US chemicals sector is still 10.9% below its peak output level that was reached in 2007.


Finally, the chart shows each sector's output index in June of 2009 (relative to the now 2012 baseline), which overall was the bottom of the recession, and then the change since that month to the present.


Motor vehicles and parts output, for example, was up 163% in January since the terrible month the sector had in June 2009.   But there are four sectors (apparel, paper, pharmaceuticals, and computers/peripherals) that are still below their level of output in that overall bottom month.


21 of the 30 sectors we tracked had their all-time production peaks in May of 2008 or earlier. That says a lot right there about the current state of affairs.


What is your reaction to this manufacturing data by sector? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


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