In this Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, file photo, technicians repair machinery at Madelaine Chocolates factory in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
WASHINGTON — Industrial production grew last month at the fastest pace in a year, pushing manufacturing output above its pre-Great Recession peak for the first time, the Federal Reserve said Monday.
Factories, mines and utilities increased production 1.1 percent in November from the previous month, the Fed said. October’s industrial production was revised up to a 0.1 percent increase from an initially reported 0.1 percent decrease.
Year-over-year, industrial production was up 3.2 percent last month as demand has increased domestically and abroad. U.S. exports hit a record high in October as Europe emerged from a long recession and other global economies expanded.
November’s big gain in industrial production surprised economists, who had projected it to rise about 0.6 percent. The new data comes amid a flurry of upbeat economic reports indicating the recovery is strengthening as the year ends.
“Production, put simply, is on a tear and fits with the record level of goods exports we have seen recently,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York.
“The economy has reached escape-velocity,” he said.
The Fed’s industrial production index hit 101.3 in November, topping the previous high reached in December 2007 at the start of the Great Recession.
Overall, the index is 21 percent above its recent low point, hit in June 2009.
November’s surge was driven by a 3.9 percent increase in output from electric and gas utilities, as colder-than-normal weather increased demand for heating. Mines also increased their output significantly in November, up 1.7 percent from the previous month.
The increase in factory output was not as strong last month but still was up 0.6 percent from October. It was the fourth-straight monthly increase and the biggest jump since August.
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