Region’s manufacturing sector starts 2018 on strong note

Marquette-ISM remains in 60s despite small dip

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Southeastern Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector started 2018 on a strong note, even as the pace of growth slowed slightly, according to the latest Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing.

The Milwaukee-area PMI for January was 63.40, down slightly from December’s 65.57, but well into positive territory. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

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January’s reading was the fourth month of the last five to register in the 60s and pushed the six-month average to 61.3. It is the best stretch the index has had since late-2014.

Respondents said demand has trended upwards in the short-term, but there has also been increased volatility. The new orders and backlog components of the index were both down sharply in January. New orders remained in growing territory, while backlog fell to neutral at 50.

Respondents also said they’re experiencing challenges finding transportation for products and in finding talent. The employment component of the index was up 2.8 points to 61.48 with gains in both blue and white collar employment.

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The six-month outlook diffusion index, which tries to account for positive and negative bias, increased from 71.43 percent in December to 75 percent in January. The gain was driven by an increase in the percentage of respondents expecting improved conditions moving forward from 50 to 65 percent. That gain was offset by a jump in those expecting things to get worse from 7.14 to 15 percent.

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