Last updateThu, 22 Mar 2018 4pm


U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Start Strong in 2018

Orders for manufacturing technology in January 2018 were up 44% compared to January 2017, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report from the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). It was the second-largest January in the 22 years recorded by the USMTO program. Orders totaled $372 million for the month, down 20% compared to December.

Every region tracked by USMTO recorded order growth relative to January 2017, while only the southcentral region realized a month-over-month gain as it benefitted from strong orders in primary metal products, contract machining and improvement in oil and gas. The north-central-west region, led by medical equipment and industrial machinery, was up 69% relative to January 2017. Nationally, orders from the forging and stamping industry were up 114% over December, while the primary metal products industry posted a 93% increase over December. 

U.S. Added 313,000 Jobs in February

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 313,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Employment rose in construction, retail trade, professional and business services, manufacturing, financial activities and mining.

Manufacturing added 31,000 jobs in February. Within the industry, employment rose in transportation equipment (+8,000), fabricated metal products (+6,000), machinery (+6,000), and primary metals (+4,000). Over the past year, manufacturing has added 224,000 jobs. 

Fed Reports Increase in U.S. Manufacturing Sector

Economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in January and February, according to the newest Beige Book report. Consumer spending was mixed, as non-auto retail sales increased in just over half of the Districts. Increases in production were broad based across manufacturing sectors, with all but one District noting at least modest growth in activity.

Across the country, contacts observed persistent labor market tightness and brisk demand for qualified workers. Several districts reported continued worker shortages across most sectors. 

Factory Goods Orders Fell 1.4% in January

New orders for manufactured goods in January, down following five consecutive monthly increases, decreased $6.9 billion or 1.4% to $491.7 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports. This followed a 1.8% December increase. Shipments, up thirteen of the last fourteen months, increased $2.8 billion or 0.6% to $498.8 billion.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in January, down following two consecutive monthly increases, decreased $9.0 billion or 3.6% to $240.0 billion, up from the previously published 3.7% decrease. This followed a 2.7% December increase. 

Mid-America Jobs, Inflation, Exports Soared

The February Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, an economic indicator for the nine-state region stretching from Arkansas to North Dakota, jumped to a very healthy reading pointing to healthy growth for the next three to six months.

The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, expanded to a very healthy 59.7 from January’s 57.3. This is the 15th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral, continuing to point to positive growth for the region over the next three to six months. 



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