Area manufacturing sector grows for first time in months

Report shows activity edging into positive territory

manufacturing activity

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

Milwaukee area manufacturing activity showed growth for the first time since March, according to data released today by Marquette University.

The Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing Milwaukee-area PMI was 50.36 for the month of January. Any reading above 50 indicates growth while a reading below 50 suggests the market in contracting.


The index has been in the 40s or even lower in recent months as manufacturers confront a number of issues including the strong U.S. dollar, a weaker economy in China and falling commodity prices. While some industries have done well, including the automotive market which set a record for sales in 2015, others, like mining, have struggled.

The Marquette report’s outlook on business in the next six months showed an increasing number of respondents expecting to see positive conditions moving forward. In January, 46 percent said they expect things to get better, up from 42 percent in December and 25 percent in November. At the same time, the percentages expecting things to stay the same or get worse have been falling.

The diffusion index for business conditions, which attempts to eliminate bias towards the positive or negative, has climbed the last three months and now stands at 69.2 percent.

While the PMI moving into growth territory was a positive development for the economy, there were other negative factors. That included declines in new orders, employment and exports.

One survey respondent said there has been three straight months of below average orders and another said there was a 15-year low in order backlog.

After being in positive territory in December, both the diffusion index for both white collar and blue collar employment was in negative territory in the January report.

Read more economic data reports on the BizTracker page.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at 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.

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