March 2017 Economic Indicators

Melanie Garza - Director of Strategy & Growth

Durable Goods Orders Rebound

New orders for manufactured durable goods climbed 1.8% in January, following two consecutive monthly decreases including a -0.8% drop in December.  Excluding defense, new orders increased 1.5% and transportation equipment spiked 6%.

Government spending on orders for defense equipment rose 59.9%, and commercial aircraft orders jumped 69%.  New orders for passenger cars posted a 0.2% increase.

New orders for capital equipment rose .5% while computers fell 1.6%, and electronic equipment also dropped -2.2%.


Capacity Utilization Dips

Capacity utilization for the industrial sector fell 0.3% in January to 75.3, a rate that is 4.6 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2016) average.

Preliminary estimates of industrial capacity for 2017 show that total industrial capacity is projected to rise 1.3% this year after increasing 0.4% in 2016. Manufacturing capacity is expected to advance 1.1% in 2017, somewhat faster than the 0.7% pace in 2016. Capacity in the mining sector is estimated to rise 0.9% in 2017 after falling 3.4% in 2016. Capacity at electric and natural gas utilities is projected to increase 0.8%, about the same rate as in the three previous years.

Capacity rates for durables goods in January are as follows:  primary metals at 71.4%; fabricated metals at 79.8%; machinery at 72.4%; computers at 73.4%; electronics and appliances at 82.3%; motor vehicles at 82.1% and aerospace at 80.9%.


Questions or comments? Please contact Melanie Garza at