2014 posts fastest growth in factory production in four years

As the final figures from 2014 are tallied, the picture they paint of last year show strong growth in the manufacturing sector. According to new data from the Federal Reserve, factory production in the United States grew at its fastest rate in four years. Due in large part to a strong fourth quarter, 2014 laid foundations for future innovation and development in manufacturing. 

"Manufacturing has been a growth driver throughout the U.S. recovery from the Great Recession, and will remain so in the near term," said PNC Financial economist Gus Faucher.

In December, factory production increased 0.3 percent, which experts describe as a strong finish to an impressive year. One of the leading factors to boosting the American manufacturing economy in 2014 was strong job creation across sectors. With more disposable income to spend on manufactured goods, demand for items like computers, clothing, furniture, construction supplies and other non-essential items rose. 

Additionally, the production of oil and gas finally rebounded after a slow start to this mild winter. Initially, expectations for demand greatly exceeded the actual need for heating fuel during the late fall and early winter, though now that cold fronts have settled into temperate areas, output has increased by 2.2 percent. The strong showing is particularly notable in light of the falling cost of oil, another factor that has freed up wallets for retail spending. 

Despite a strong year for auto sales, the production of cars and trucks in the United States fell by 1 percent in December. With strong outlooks across manufacturing sectors, it's possible that demand for autos will spur production in 2015, as consumers and manufacturing executives restore their confidence in markets shown to be on the upswing.