WASHINGTON – U.S. industrial production rose in June as factories made more cars, machines and business equipment, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday. Factory output recovered to levels reached earlier this spring but appears to be leveling off.
Factory output rose 0.7 percent last month, after falling by the same amount in May, the Fed said. Factories produced more machines and vehicles used by businesses. Production of consumer goods edged higher. Overall industrial production rose 0.4 percent in June.
Auto production rebounded after its first decline of the year.
Factories are a crucial contributor to economic expansion. Their strong results in June follow a period of shaky growth. Factory output fell in two of the past four months. Over the second quarter, factories growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.4 percent, after leaping 9.8 percent in the first quarter.
Most other economic data also weakened in the April-to-June quarter. Job growth slowed to a crawl in part because manufacturers hired fewer new workers. Industry surveys also suggest that growth is weakening.
Mining activity increased 0.7 percent, while utility output fell 1.9 percent.
U.S. industry was operating at 78.9 percent of its total capacity, the same level as June. It dipped to 78.7 percent in May.
Factory output has increased 15.5 percent since its recession-era low, reached in June 2009. It remains 2.9 percent below its pre-recession peak, reached in June 2007.