An Assessment of Capacity Utilization Statistics, Strengths and Weaknesses

CED-77-3: Published: Oct 28, 1976. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1976.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO investigated the adequacy of statistics on industrial capacity utilization provided by the Department of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Board. A determination of each preparer's capacity was made by reviewing sources of data, assumptions used, and methodologies employed.

Differences in utilization rates reported by seven organizations for 1970 through 1975 ranged from 10.2 to 22 percentage points. The variations in the rates are caused by differences in data collection, calculation methods, and definitions of capacity. All of the capacity utilization statistics have weaknesses. Statistics series are prepared by three Federal organizations, the Bureau of the Census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Federal Reserve Board. The need for these three series was questioned.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: A family of capacity definitions for use in calculating statistics should be developed. Federal organizations should be assigned the responsibility for developing a single reliable set of rates for use by Government and non-Government users.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Nov 19, 2015

Nov 3, 2015

Oct 28, 2015

Oct 20, 2015

Oct 14, 2015

Oct 5, 2015

Sep 30, 2015

Sep 23, 2015

Sep 16, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here