Friday, August 8, 2014

"An All-Time High"

Trading Economics:
Capacity Utilization in the United States decreased to 79.08 percent in June of 2014 from 79.13 percent in May of 2014. Capacity Utilization in the United States averaged 80.63 Percent from 1967 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 89.39 Percent in January of 1967 and a record low of 66.81 Percent in June of 2009. Capacity Utilization in the United States is reported by the Federal Reserve.

An all-time high in 1967. Let's look at the data:

Graph #1: Capacity Utilization since 1967 (FRED)

Well... it doesn't reach an all-time high in January of 1967. It starts out at an all-time high in 1967. And it's all downhill from there.

That 1967 start-date bothers me. Yeah, it's a long time back. But not that long. I mean, I graduated high school before then.

If the trend is all downhill since 1967, I'd like to know about the years before 1967. Lots of FRED series go back to 1947. Some go back to 1929. Wouldn't it be interesting to see how Capacity Utilization changed as we entered the Great Depression, and how it changed again as we geared up for World War Two? I'd like to see that.

Well, I can't show you CapUt in the 1930s and '40s. But I can show you the 1950s. I was scrolling through the Economic Report of the President for 1962 the other day (thanks, Marcus!) and I found this graph:

Graph #2: Capacity Utilization 1953-1961 (ERP 1962)
Second vertical axis from the left -- the one that says CU at top. The tiny-dots dotted line shows Capacity Utilization. Looks like "an all-time high" of about 94% back at the start of this graph in 1953.

This graph shows 1953 to 1961. The FRED picks up in 1967. What's missing? 1962-1966, some pretty good years for the U.S. economy. Maybe I can find a Capacity Utilization graph that includes those years in a later issue of the Economic Report of the President. Wouldn't hurt to look.

I'm thinking I might insert Graph #2 into an AutoCAD drawing, positioned and scaled so the numbers on the "CU" axis match AutoCAD Y-values. Then I can draw a line that follows the tiny dots of the Capacity Utilization line on the chart. Then I can add some yearly verticals and get Capacity Utilization numbers from intersection points in AutoCAD.

Sounds like fun!


Jazzbumpa said...

Yeah - I want to see that.


camiocam ?

Gene Hayward said...


Not sure if this is exactly what you are looking for but it is an official report and it has CU rates (looks like averages for the years) for those gap years.

I found it here:

The Arthurian said...

Thank you, Gene. That is exactly what I was looking for.

I am bedeviled by authority -- and lazy besides, apparently. If I don't find what I want after just a few minutes I figure it must not exist, period.

So I went back to FRED's "236,000 US and international time series from 68 sources." And this time, I spent a little more time looking. And guess what I found: Capacity Utilization: Manufacturing (SIC). Goes all the way back to 1948. Holy cow!

Thanks again, Gene.

Gene Hayward said...

LOL! I should not have doubted your ability to find a FRED graph no matter how deeply buried :)