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Durable Goods Orders Fall, Dragged Down by Transportation

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Durable goods orders declined in April, dragged down by orders for transportation equipment, the U.S. Commerce Department said today in a monthly report.

Orders totaled $246.2 billion last month, down 1.3 percent from March. That snapped a streak of 11 consecutive monthly gains.

Transportation equipment drove the decrease. Transportation orders slid 6.7 percent to $68.9 billion. The transportation category has declined for two consecutive months.

Excluding transportation, new orders rose 1 percent. Excluding defense, new orders were about unchanged.

Within transportation, orders for motor vehicles and parts fell 6.2 percent to $50 billion. The auto industry is coping with a shortage of semiconductors, which has caused production cutbacks and temporary layoffs.

Supplies of computer chips may improve in the year’s second half. But the shortage may last into 2022.

Orders for commercial aircraft increased 17 percent to $8.1 billion in April. Aerospace was one of the hardest-hit manufacturing industries last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That cut back demand for air travel and resulted in canceled orders for aircraft.

Orders for defense aircraft and parts fell 8.5 percent to $3.6 billion.

Among other industries, orders for primary metals increased 3 percent to $22.6 billion. Orders for machinery gained 1.4 percent to $36.1 billion. Orders for fabricated metal products rose 0.9 percent to $36.4 billion.

The durable goods report is based on about 3,100 companies.

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