Area manufacturing growth slows in April

Local PMI down from March, but remains positive

Manufacturing

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 am

Area manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace in April, snapping a streak of four straight months with improvement in the Milwaukee-area PMI.

The Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing registered a PMI of 51.05 in April, down from 57.78 in March, but still showing growth. Any reading over 50 indicates growth in the industry.

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The report found drops in new orders, production, employment, backlog and exports. While production, backlog and employment remained in growth territory, new orders and exports fell below 50, suggesting declines in those areas.

Respondents were still upbeat in their comments on the survey; with one saying there has been a substantial increase in orders and another saying they have been quoting a lot of jobs.

The respondents indicated there are not many supply chain issues currently, but the order cycle time has also been compressed.

The employment picture worsened but remained in positive territory with blue collar falling from 63.8 in March to 53.5 and white collar falling from 63.8 to 50.2. Respondents said more employees are needed to reduce lead times but there has been an ongoing cost review at the white collar level.

Lead times generally increased in the month with capital expenditures up six days to 100, production materials up seven days to 44 and MRO supplies up four days to 18.

Expectations for the next six months worsened slightly with the percentage expecting better conditions dropping from 44 percent to 36 percent. The percentage expecting things to get worse was also down at 7 percent while those expecting things to stay the same increased to 57 percent.

The Marquette-ISM’s March reading of 57.78 received some support from data released Friday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector registered a 0.06 on the bank’s Midwest Economic Index, better than Michigan, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. A reading of zero indicates growth at traditional levels.

The bank’s relative MEI, which measures growth against the nation as a whole, also had good news. Wisconsin registered a 0.07, trailing only Michigan at 0.08.

The state also had above average performances in the construction, service and consumer sectors on both measures.

Read more economic data reports on the BizTracker page.

 

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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.