Earlier today, the Federal Reserve released its latest data on industrial production. Bottom line: production over the past three months has been surprisingly strong. Growth in September was more than expected, and the previous month was revised upward.
Industrial production has now increased for three straight months, as has a slightly narrower measure, manufacturing production:
As you can see, manufacturing production turned consistently negative in January of 2008 and then fell off a cliff toward the end of the year. After declining in 17 of 18 months (driving manufacturing production down a total of 17%), manufacturing production has now risen for three straight months (for a cumulative rebound of about 3%).
Manufacturing still has a long way to go. But the recent strength in industrial production, generally, and manufacturing, specifically, adds weight to the view that the recession may have ended early this summer. (Recall that the last recession ended in November 2001, even though job losses continued long afterward.)