US March manufacturing growth picked up

US March manufacturing growth accelerated in comparison to February, according to the Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business published by the Institute for Supply Management. The manufacturing sector in the United States grew in March for the 10th month running, while the economy overall expanded for the 58th successive month, according to the country’s supply executives.

Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, who issued the report today, said the US manufacturing sector is growing from strength to strength.

The March PMI came in at 53.7%, which is a 0.5 percentage point higher than February’s 53.2%, indicating expansion in manufacturing.

US March manufacturing growth widespread

Below are some highlighted data from the report:

  1. The New Orders Index increased 0.6 percentage point to 55.1% compared to 54.5% in February.
  2. The Production Index rose a surprising 7.7 percentage points and registered 55.9%, compared to 48.2% in February.
  3. The number of people in work rose for the ninth month running, “but at a lower rate by 1.2 percentage points,” coming in at 51.1% in March compared to 52.3% in February.

The panel’s comments overall reflect favorable demand and improved business conditions. However, there are still some lingering doubts about the abnormally harsh weather conditions across the nation.

Fourteen of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in March, in the following order:

  • Petroleum & Coal Products
  • Transportation Equipment
  • Furniture & Related Products
  • Paper Products
  • Printing & Related Support Activities
  • Plastics & Rubber Products
  • Fabricated Metal Products
  • Machinery
  • Textile Mills
  • Computer & Electronic Products
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Products
  • Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products
  • Chemical Products
  • Primary Metals

The following four industries reported a decline in activity in March:

  • Apparel, Leather & Allied Products
  • Wood Products
  • Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components
  • Miscellaneous Manufacturing

Recovering from abnormally harsh winter

Economists say US March manufacturing growth was boosted by factories’ productivity as they recovered from a particularly harsh winter.

Many factories across the country had to close down because of the bad weather, which also disrupted supply shipments. February figures showed some of the lost ground had been gained, while the index recouped all its losses in March.

There was a consumer confidence rebound in the US in March, according to figures published by The Conference Board.