Slowing demand hampers region’s manufacturing growth in February

Milwaukee-area PMI declines but remains in positive territory

manufacturing activity

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

Growth in southeastern Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector slowed in February but remained firmly in positive territory, according to the latest Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing.

The report’s Milwaukee-area PMI dropped from 58.78 in January to 55.09 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the manufacturing sector. The survey-based index has only been below 55 in one month since the start of 2017.

For the last six months, the average index reading is 56.3, down from around 65 in the spring and early summer last year.

“Seems as though the economy is cooling after a peak,” one respondent said in the February report.

Other respondents said customer orders were improving from the end of 2018, but remained below levels in the second and third quarter of last year.

“Major pushouts of demand into next quarter,” a respondent said. “Unclear if this is really just delaying demand reductions long term.”

The new orders component of the index dropped from 44.2 to 42.5 in February, remaining in negative territory. Order backlogs and exports improved substantially, up 10.1 and 6.6 points respectively, but both remained in negative territory.

The six-month business outlook diffusion index, which attempts to balance positive and negative bias, dropped from 62.5 percent in January to 53.1 percent in February.

The shift was primarily the result of a drop in positive sentiment. In January, 41.7 percent of respondents expected conditions to improve in the next six months. That figure dropped to 31.3 percent in February.

Read more economic data reports at 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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