WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial production slowed to a modest increase of 0.4% in August, far weaker than the strong bounce back recorded in previous months when factories were coming back to life.

The slight uptick followed gains of 3.5% in July and 6.1% in June, when the industrial sector knocked down by the pandemic began to rebound.

For August, manufacturing rose 1% but mining, which includes oil and gas exploration, fell 2.5%, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. Production at the nation’s utilities was off 0.4%.

It’s the fourth consecutive monthly increase after COVID-19 sent production plunging in March and April. But even with the gains over the summer, industrial production remains 7.3% below where it was in February, right before economic activity seized up in the pandemic.