More factories fall silent as capacity use rate hits an all-time low


The Federal Reserve reports that, following a 1.7 percent decline in March, industrial production fell a further 0.5 percent in April. Production in manufacturing fell 0.3 percent, putting it 16 percent below its recent peak at the end of 2007. And the capacity utilization rate for industry fell to 69.1 percent, the lowest reading since statistics began to be collected in 1967.

On one level, this industrial decline isn't all that surprising. For years, commentators and analysts, pundits and politicians have repeated the refrain that manufacturing jobs are being outsourced to other countries. Sometimes their tones have been eager, as if this is represents the United States' next evolutionary step toward an economy that runs on nothing more than brain waves. Other times, the tones have been terrified, as if the image of Chinese workers sewing track suits is a bona-fide, Revelations-endorsed sign of the end times.