THE COUNTRY’S FACTORY output extended its streak of decline to 12 months in February, as well as posting the steepest fall in five months, the government reported this morning.

Preliminary results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries for February showed factory output, as measured by the Volume of Production Index, fell by 43.6% year on year in February. This was faster than the revised 12% drop in January, but a reversal of the 0.4% growth a year earlier.

The February decline marked the steepest in five months, or since the 56.7% year-on-year drop recorded in September 2020.

The index has been on a decline since March last year, around the time when strict lockdown restrictions were implemented to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The PSA noted annual decreases in 19 out of 22 industry divisions in February. Of these, 14 posted double-digit annual declines led by the manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products (-85.4%); machinery and equipment, except electrical (-48.5%); textiles (-32.6%); and furniture (-30.3%).

Capacity utilization — the extent to which industry resources are used in producing goods — averaged 53.8% in February, down from 56.7% in January. Of the 22 sectors, 15 averaged a capacity utilization rate of at least 50%. — Jobo E. Hernandez