Here’s a Snapshot of U.S. Manufacturing Activity in March

Chad Moutray, senior economist with the National Association of Manufacturers posted this week: “The Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace since Dec. 1983, with the headline index up from 60.8 in February to 64.7 in March. The data were very solid across the board, including strong growth for new orders (up from 64.8 to 68.0—best since Jan. 2004), production (up from 63.2 to 68.1—best since Jan. 2004) and employment (up from 54.4 to 59.6—best since Feb. 2018). Exports (down from 57.2 to 54.5) continued to expand modestly despite softening somewhat in March.

“Supply chain disruptions remain a significant challenge, including labor market and logistics struggles. The index for supplier deliveries (up from 72.0 to 76.6) soared to its highest reading since Apr. 1974, with sharply slower delivery times in March. (In this case, readings above 50 are consistent with slower deliveries.) The backlog of orders (up from 64.0 to 67.5) jumped to the highest on record, dating back to when the question was added in January 1993.

“With that in mind, prices (down from 86.0 to 85.6) decelerated marginally in March from February’s pace, which was the fastest rate since July 2008.” 4/1/2021