Region’s manufacturing growth continued slowing trend in March

Milwaukee-area PMI down 7 of last 12 months

manufacturing activity

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:10 am

A measure of manufacturing growth in southeastern Wisconsin has now declined in seven of the last 12 months and is on the verge of showing a contraction in the industry.

The Milwaukee-area PMI, part of the Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing, was 50.05 in March, down from 55.09 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

The index has generally been trending downward after peaking in the early part of 2018. The six-month average of the Milwaukee-area PMI has been down every month since June. Still, the March reading is just the second below 55 since the start of 2017.

Survey respondents reported receiving mixed messages from the market with demand up or down depending on the product. One respondent said prices, which had been up sharply in 2018, seemed to be stabilizing but the economy was cooling.

The report’s overall business outlook for the next six months was largely unchanged. The outlook’s diffusion index, which attempts to balance positive and negative bias, went from 53.1 percent in February to 53.3 percent in March.

Those headline numbers, however, obscured a shift in the number of respondents expecting a change in conditions. The percentage of respondents expecting improved conditions increased from 31 to 40 percent while the number expecting things to get worse also jumped from a quarter to a third.

Within the PMI, new orders continued to decline but did show some improvement. Production continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace and order backlogs shrank.

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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.