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FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2015 file photo, laborer Gabriel González welds at a workshop in Hialeah, Florida. (AP Photo / Alan Díaz, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – US industrial production saw just a modest 0.4% increase in August, much weaker than the strong rebound in previous months when factories were coming back to life.

The slight rebound followed gains of 3.5% in July and 6.1% in June, as the industrial sector, brought down by the pandemic, began to recover.

For August, manufacturing increased 1% but mining, which includes oil and gas exploration, fell 2.5%, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. The production of the nation’s public services fell 0.4%.

It is the fourth consecutive monthly increase after the COVID-19 pandemic sent production plummeting in March and April. However, even with the gains recorded during the summer, industrial production remains 7.3% below where it was in February, just before economic activity was paralyzed by restrictions to curb the pandemic.

Last month, manufacturing was hit by a decline in production from auto factories, although there were general increases in industries that make other types of durable goods.

The falls in the mining sector reflected abrupt but temporary crashes in oil and gas drilling when Tropical Storm Marco and Hurricane Laura forced hydrocarbon companies to close their operations in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

US industry operated at 71.4% of capacity in August, 10.3 percentage points above its April low, but still 8 percentage points below its long-term average.