Manufacturers end 1997 on a high note
Responding to a report from the Fed that industrial production rose 0.5% in December, while capacity utilization edged up slightly to 83.4%, National Association of Manufacturers President Jerry Jasinowski issued the following statement.
“Today’s Fed release shows manufacturers ended the year on a strong note that has not yet been marred by the emerging Asian crisis. In the present economic situation, price increases are not allowed — and this mean that to grow, manufacturers have to increase productivity and sales. The good news is that this is exactly what they are doing, which accounts for the increase in production.
“Though slightly down from the previous month, industrial production in December was 5.9% higher than a year ago. For the fourth quarter as a whole, industrial production grew at a healthy annual rate of 7.4%, following an increase of 6% in the third quarter.
“Most impressive in today’s report is not just that production is moving ahead, but that manufacturing is advancing on multiple fronts. Manufacturing’s production of durable goods rose 0.6% while nondurables increased 0.4%. In addition, an advance in the production of business equipment was lead by a 1.2% gain in information processing equipment.
“The future economic environment is highly uncertain. The deflationary pressures in the goods market, coupled with the further downward pressure sure to come from Asian imports, will slow growth substantially in the first half of the year.”