By Spencer

Industrial production fell 1.5% in March, the same as in February.

From the peak industrial production has now fallen 13.4%. This makes it worse than the 13.0% fall in the 1974 and 1958 recessions and the 9.3% drop in the 1982 recessions. This measure says this is now the deepest post WW II recession.

The good news is the rebound in productivity that began last month continued this month. The three month growth in implied manufacturing productivity is now above the year over year change. Historically, productivity leads output and it would be really unusual to see output bottom before productivity bottoms.

The first quarter real GDP and productivity numbers will be interesting. Hours worked fell more in the first quarter than in the fourth quarter. But business output should not fall as much in the first quarter as it did in the fourth quarter. Consequently, first quarter productivity should show a nice bounce and productivity growth generally leads real GDP growth by two quarters..