Auto and steel lead late 2012 gains in Midwest manufacturing again

If manufacturing production in the Midwest during the last months in 2012 serves as an indicator for the industry in the new year, the region could be in for a vigorous recovery in 2013. Riding the tide of increased auto and steel production, Midwest manufacturing was on the rise last December, according to the Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index (CFMMI), a regional index measuring output. The increase in production in late 2012 bares well for 2013, and businesses can look to manufacturing recruiters to help find talent to fill the new jobs created by expanded operations.

December gains, November upwardly revised
The CFMMI increased 0.7 percent in its latest reading for December 2012 to a seasonally adjusted level of 94.7. The gains in December put Midwest manufacturing on pace for a return to pre-recession production levels. The index last reached 100 in February 2008.

Meanwhile, revised data for November showed the index was up a full 2 percent after its initial reading  showed an improvement of 1.6 percent. The two straight months of expansion followed a rough October when the index fell 1.1 percent. The CFMMI measures manufacturing data from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Auto and steel drive increased output in December
Steel and auto production fueled December’s positive numbers, which suggests steel industry recruiters and talent searches for auto jobs will likely see a jolt in demand. The regional auto sector was up 1.5 percent and the regional steel sector rose 0.7 percent. The 1.5 percent gain in automotive production followed exceptional growth in November, when the sector rose 4 percent. National auto production rose 1.3 percent during December. Midwest auto output was up 16.8 percent year-over-year from December 2011, above the national average, which registered an uptick of 10.2 percent year over year.

Midwest steel production improved 3.3 percent from December 2011, while national output was up 1.6 percent. National output gains in December steel production were slightly better than regional advances. Country-wide production grew 1 percent, while regional gained 0.7 percent after increasing 1.6 percent in November.

Not every sector fared as well as auto and steel. Regional resource sector output dropped 0.1 percent in December. Additionally, regional machinery sector production decreased 0.3 percent. Overall, regional output year-over-year gains in December stood at 6.2 percent, while national output increases totaled a rise in production of 2.7 percent from December 2011.

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