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Manufacturing Remains at Strong Levels, ISM Says

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing continued to operate at strong levels in April, the Institute for Supply Management said today.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based group’s manufacturing index, known as the PMI, was 60.7 percent last month, ISM said in a monthly report.

That was down from 64.7 percent in March, which represented a nearly 40-year high. With the PMI, a reading above 50 percent indicates economic expansion. Below that mark shows economic contraction. The index is based on a survey of supply executives across 18 industries.

A PMI of 60.7 percent “is very good,” Timothy R. Fiore, chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said on a conference call. “I’d go for that any day.”

Manufacturing is being held back as “suppliers can’t deliver enough” to meet production at factories, Fiore said.

The sector has been recovering since the COVID-19 pandemic initially slammed manufacturing early last year. After early closures, factories reopened with additional safety procedures. Demands for some products, such as motor vehicles and parts, recovered faster than others, such as aerospace.

The PMI has been in positive territory for 11 consecutive months. The index has averaged 56.9 percent over the past 12 months.

In April, all 18 industries reported economic expansion, ISM said in a statement.

ISM’s New Orders Index registered at 64.3 percent in April, down from 68 percent the month before. Sixteen of 18 industries reported an increase in new orders, including fabricated metal products, primary metals and machinery.

The group’s Production Index was 62.5 percent in April, down from 68.1 percent in March. Fourteen of the 18 industries reported an increase in output.

The institute’s Employment Index slipped to 55.1 percent last month from 59.6 percent in March. Thirteen of 18 industries reported job gains. Only two industries, wood products, and paper products, reported job cuts.

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