National manufacturing activity ‘plugging along’

Growth slows in April

manufacturing activity

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

National manufacturing activity grew modestly in April, the second month of expansion for a sector that has faced a number of headwinds during the last few quarters.

The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI for the month registered 50.8, down from 51.8 in March. A reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

The report found growth in 11 of 18 manufacturing industries, including wood products; printing and support activities; paper products; plastics and rubber; primary metals; fabricated metal products; chemical products; machinery; computer and electronic products; nonmetallic mineral products; and food, beverage and tobacco.

Petroleum and coal products; transportation equipment; miscellaneous manufacturing and furniture and related products showed contraction in April.

Respondents were generally mixed in their views on the sector.

A food and beverage products respondent said the facility was at capacity and had $30 million in capital expenditures that would come online in 2017.

A fabricated metal products respondent said the “general economy is plugging along with no big changes. Kind of lackluster.”

A machinery respondent said the auto industry continues to be strong while a transportation equipment respondent said “Sales are firming at the reduced levels we’ve seen this year. We think we have hit a bottom.”

The report found new orders, production and backlog continued to grow, but at a slower pace than March. Employment improved but was still contracting, continuing a five month trend.

The Marquette-ISM released last week found similar results for the Milwaukee area with growth slowing from April to March.

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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