Area manufacturers see slight uptick in growth, even as demand slows

Business outlook for next six months is split

manufacturing activity

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:10 am

The manufacturing industry in southeastern Wisconsin saw a slight uptick in growth in October, according to the latest Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing, even as survey respondents reported a slowing of demand during the month.

The Milwaukee-area PMI increased from 56.16 in September to 58.21 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates growth and the index has been above 60 in eight of the last 12 months.

Survey respondents indicated they have seen slowing demand and the new orders component dropped from 57 to 52.7. Order backlogs were also down from 56.7 to 50 as companies were able to catch up.

Another respondent said tariffs have resulted in the reshoring of a lot of work, while others said potential pricing adjustments in December are causing uncertainty in demand. Many manufacturers have lamented that tariffs the Trump administration placed on foreign steel and aluminum and many Chinese goods, along with retaliatory tariffs from other countries, have cut into profitability and will lead to higher prices for consumers.

The business outlook in the October report was decidedly mixed with the diffusion index, which attempts to balance positive and negative bias, at 50 percent. Respondents were evenly split between expecting improved, the same or worse business conditions over the next six months.

The employment outlook declined in October, with blue collar dropping from 54.3 to 50.7 and white collar reaching negative territory with a drop from 54.3 to 47.3.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.