Last updateThu, 16 May 2019 4pm


Manufacturing Technology Orders Up Big in January

U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) for January totaled $396 million, marking the second strongest January in the history of the USMTO program. Orders declined 10.5% from December, but at half the average decline in January over December levels since 1998. January 2019 orders grew 5% over January 2018 – an indicator of continued expansion in the market into 2019 after an annual expansion of 19% in 2018.

“January was one of the top two starts to a year in over 22 years of USMTO reporting, signaling that the current expansion is not over,” said Douglas K. Woods, President of The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). “However, the markets in Asia and Europe began contracting in the last third of 2018 which is likely to increase supply in the U.S. The silver lining is that global markets should rebound about the time the U.S. market is expected to begin a short-lived contraction.”

Manufacturing Labor Productivity Up 2% Last Quarter

Manufacturing sector labor productivity increased 2.0% in the fourth quarter of 2018, as output increased 2.7% and hours worked rose 0.8%. Productivity increased 3.3% in the durable manufacturing sector in the fourth quarter of 2018. Over the last four quarters, total manufacturing sector productivity increased 1.0%, as output increased 2.9% and hours worked increased 1.9%. Unit labor costs in manufacturing increased 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and rose 0.8% from the same quarter a year ago. 

U.S. Added 20,000 Jobs in February

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased in February by 20,000 and the unemployment rate declined to 3.8%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Manufacturing employment was up 4,000 in February, after increasing by an average of 22,000 per month over the prior 12 months. 

NAM Survey: Optimism Continues to Reign

Manufacturers continued to report solid growth in activity this quarter, with the sector remaining one of the brightest spots in the economy and hitting nine consecutive quarters of record optimism. As revealed in this first quarter 2019 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers, 89.5% of respondents said they felt either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook, up from 88.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018. While this represents a slightly lower level of confidence overall as compared to the all-time high reading in the second quarter of 2018 (95.1%), it nonetheless continues a streak of highly elevated levels of optimism since the end of 2016. 

Manufacturing Increases at Slower Rate in February

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) February PMI registered 54.2%, a decrease of 2.4% from the January reading of 56.6%, reflecting continued expanding business strength, supported by notable demand and output, although both were softer than the prior month. Demand expansion continued, with the New Orders Index reaching the mid-50s, the Customers’ Inventories Index scoring lower and remaining too low, and the Backlog of Orders returning to a low-50s expansion level. 

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