Factories slipped to 68% of capacity last month

The nation's factories operated at just 68.4 percent of their capacity last month, the lowest rate since records were first kept in 1948, the Federal Reserve Board said Wednesday.

In addition, there is evidence that not only use of factory capacity but also the total capacity of such industries as steel and oil is shrinking, a Federal Reserve analyst said.

The nation's overall factory operating rate usually approaches 100 percent only in times of war. More typical outside a recession would be rates of at least 80 percent.

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