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US Manufacturing Industry Expands Further in March as Employment Growth Slows: ISM

H.S. Borji
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US Manufacturing Industry Expands Further in March as Employment Growth Slows: ISM

Manufacturing output in the world’s largest economy accelerated further in March, as production improved despite a slowdown in employment growth.

The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of national manufacturing activity rose in March from 53.2 to 53.7, narrowly missing estimates calling for 54. The US manufacturing industry has been above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction for ten consecutive months.

Fourteen of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in March, led by petroleum and coal products, transportation equipment, furniture and related products, and paper products. The four industries to report declines were apparel and leather, wood products, electrical equipment and appliances, and miscellaneous manufacturing.

New orders expanded for the tenth consecutive month, with more than one-third of purchasing managers reporting improvements in this area. Production expanded sharply, ISM data showed. The production sub-index rose 7.7 percentage points to 55.9, the largest monthly gain since June 2009.

Employment growth slowed in March, with the employment sub-index falling from 52.3 to 51.1. Job creation was enjoyed by ten of the 18 manufacturing sub-sectors, ISM data showed.

Overall, purchasing managers reported a strong rebound in March, a sign business conditions should continue to improve with the arrival of warm weather.

“Seeing improvement in the overall economy. Hearing strong bookings in residential contractor and home repair work,” said one manager from paper products.

“First quarter business is still strong,” said another from fabricated metal products.

“Business beginning to heat-up, along with the weather,” said one respondent from petroleum and coal products.

A separate report from Markit Group said manufacturing activity continued to expand sharply in March, with the rate of production growth remaining close to three-year highs.

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