Milwaukee manufacturing pace slips

Milwaukee-area manufacturing growth slowed considerably in March, according to the monthly report from the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee.

The Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing showed the PMI, a measure of manufacturing growth, was at 50.98 in March, down from 56.48 in February.

A reading above 50 indicates growth, while below 50 indicates contraction. February’s reading was well above the 51.31 recorded in January.

The indices for new orders, production, employment, customers’ inventories, prices, exports and imports are all growing. Inventories, supplier deliveries and backlog of orders are on downward trends.

Blue collar employment was at 54.2 in March, up from 51.1 in February. White collar employment was at 50.2, down from 54.8 in February.

Buying policy also changed. The average commitment lead time for capital expenditures was down six days to 79 days. The average lead time for production materials decreased three days to 38 days. And the average lead time for maintenance, repair and operating supplies was up by four to 20 days.

Here are some of the responses to the March survey:

“Some announcements of price increases have been received, but the economics of the market will not support them. In general, supply and lead times are adequate.”

“Building safety stock.”

“March is starting to see the normal uptick.”

“China suppliers struggling with staff not returning after China New Year.”

“Still working down inventories.”

The respondents’ six-month outlook on business conditions shows manufacturers remain positive. The report indicates 52 percent expect positive conditions going forward, while 43 percent expect the same conditions and 5 percent expect worse conditions.

Here are some of the responses on the six-month outlook:

“Unsure—ahead of plan now but nothing solid forward beyond 12 weeks.”

“Seasonal rise beginning.”

“Automotive strength and housing improvements.”

“While there is infrastructure investment in some sectors, EU ‘uncertainty’ and ineffective U.S. ‘government’ will be a drag.”

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