Economic Definition of capacity utilization rate. Defined.
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Term capacity utilization rate Definition: The ratio of actual production by business sector factories and other productive establishments in the economy to the potential production of these establishments. This rate indicates if our economy's factories are being used as effectively and as fully as possible. Like the unemployment rate, the capacity utilization rate measures how close our economy is to full employment. And like unemployment, this rate moves up and down over the course of a business cycle. During expansions, the rate is near 85 percent (considered full employment), and during contractions, it tends to be in the 70 percent range. In addition to an overall rate, there are also separate rates for manufacturing, mining, and utility industries.