Manufacturers’ Shipments (factory sales) data released by the Census Bureau today show that the manufacturing sector is continuing to recover from the devastating 2008-2009 recession. January shipments were up 8.9 percent over January 2010. Much of this, however, was due to a 26.6 percent increase in shipments of petroleum products. Excluding petroleum products, manufacturers’ shipments were up 6.1 percent over January 2010. Factory shipments are in current dollars, and reflect price changes.
Shipments in the highly cyclical durable goods sector were up 5.6 percent over a year ago, with capital goods up only 3.4 percent. Some particularly strong sectors include construction equipment, which was up a phenomenal 65.1 percent over January 2010, and iron and steel mill products, which were up 32.6 percent.
Consumer non-durables excluding petroleum products were up 4.8 percent over the year-earlier period, continuing a trend visible for close to a year. Household appliances, reflecting the continued slow housing market, were off 1.9 percent. Furniture shipments, however were up 8.3 percent, breaking out from the generally stagnant sales of 2010.
Frank Vargo is the NAM vice president for international economic affairs.
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