The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI registered 49.3 percent in August, indicating a contraction in the nation’s manufacturing sector for the first time since February.
It was also the second straight month of decline for the index, which was at 52.6 in July and 53.2 in June. A reading above 50 indicates the industry is growing.
Nearly all of the components in the ISM’s monthly Report on Business were also trending in a downward direction in August. The index for new orders was down 7.8 percent, production was down 5.8 percent and employment was down 1.1 percent. All three indices went from growing to contracting during the month.
While the report’s numbers were not positive, respondents to ISM’s survey did express some optimism tied to specific industry.
A food and beverage respondent said new product distribution was increasing, while another manufacturer said medical devices remained a strong area. A fabricated metal products producer said strong commercial construction was boosting business, as did a nonmetallic mineral products respondent.
A plastics and rubber products respondent said low unemployment was making it difficult to find production employees, leading to a lot of overtime.
Manufacturing employment in July was down 31,000 compared with July 2015 at 12.3 million. That figure includes a 54,000 employee drop in production and nonsupervisory positions to 8.6 million.
Wisconsin’s manufacturing employment is up 6,400 over that time frame to 474,000, according to preliminary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
National employment data for August is set to be released Friday.
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