The good news about empty factories

The rate at which we're making less and less stuff is slowing

By Andrew Leonard
Published July 15, 2009 3:37PM (EDT)

Industrial production in the U.S. ,Bloomberg tells us, fell by a mere 0.4 percent in June, "the the slowest pace in eight months, adding to signs the worst of the recession is over."

While that is certainly much more encouraging than, say, the huge 2.8 percent drop in industrial production registered last September that put an exclamation mark on the real economy implosion, but just two sentences after that cheery note, Bloomberg also tells us:

Capacity utilization, which measures the proportion of plants in use, decreased to 68 percent, the lowest level since records began in 1967.

At Slate, Daniel Gross makes a case that the recession is technically over based on some rather fine parsing of economic indicators. But when the markets treat as good news data revealing we have reached a 40-year-low (at least!) in capacity utilization, even if the economic freefall has finally ended, we are still at the bottom of a deep, deep hole.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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