The Federal Reserve reported today on industrial production for January, with the following commentary:
Industrial production edged down 0.1% in January after rising 0.4% in December. In January, manufacturing output decreased 0.4% following upwardly revised gains of 1.1% in December and 1.7% in November. At 98.6 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in January was 2.1 percent above its level of a year earlier.
The largest declines were in the output of motor vehicles and parts, which dropped 3.2%, and in the output of primary metals, which fell 2.6%; each of those indexes had advanced strongly in both November and December.
One of the strongest growth sectors in January was the production of crude oil, which rose last month to the highest level since December 1992, more than than 20 years ago (see chart below). Compared to a year earlier, crude oil production increased by more than 14%, which was the fifth straight month that crude oil output increased by 14% or more. While other industrial sectors of the economy slowed in January, crude oil production continues its phenomenal upward trajectory as the energy sector remains the "crown jewel of the disappointing economic recovery," to paraphrase Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson.