05202018Sun
Last updateFri, 18 May 2018 4pm

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U.S. Productivity Rose 0.7% in First Quarter

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased 0.7% during the first quarter of 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor reported, as output increased 2.8% and hours worked increased 2.1%. From the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, productivity increased 1.3%, reflecting a 3.6% increase in output and a 2.2% increase in hours worked.

Manufacturing sector labor productivity rose 0.5% in the first quarter of 2018, as output increased 3.3% and hours worked increased 2.8%. Productivity increased 1.3% in the durable manufacturing sector, as output grew at a 5.5% rate and hours worked increased 4.2%. Over the last four quarters, total manufacturing sector productivity increased 0.8%, as output increased 2.5% and hours worked increased 1.6%. Unit labor costs in manufacturing increased 2.7% in the first quarter of 2018 and increased 1.3% from the same quarter a year ago. 


Factory Goods Orders Up 1.6% in March

New orders for manufactured goods in March, up seven of the last eight months, increased $7.8 billion or 1.6% to $507.7 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. This followed a 1.6% February increase. Shipments, up fifteen of the last sixteen months, increased $2.1 billion or 0.4% to $502.8 billion. This followed a 0.2% February increase. Unfilled orders, up six of the last seven months, increased $9.2 billion or 0.8% to $1,153.8 billion. This followed a 0.3% February increase. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.52, up from 6.51 in February. Inventories, up sixteen of the last seventeen months, increased $1.7 billion or 0.3% to $677.3 billion. This followed a 0.4% February increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.35, unchanged from February. 

U.S. Added 164,000 Jobs in April

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 164,000 in April, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.9%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, manufacturing, health care and mining.

Employment in manufacturing increased by 24,000 in April. Most of the gain was in the durable goods component, with machinery adding 8,000 jobs and employment in fabricated metal products continuing to trend up (+4,000). Manufacturing employment has risen by 245,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the growth in durable goods industries. 

Mid-America Business Conditions Index Rose in April

The April Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, expanded to a robust 64.5 from March’s 62.1. This is the 17th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0, and is the highest reading in 12 years, pointing to strong growth for the region over the next three to six months.

“Heavy or durable-goods manufacturers are expanding at a pace more than double that of nondurable goods producers. Much of the recent growth has been driven by exports. Almost four of five companies reported that exports were an important component of their company’s profitability,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group. 

ISM: U.S. Manufacturing Continued to Expand in April

Manufacturing expanded in April as the PMI registered 57.3%, a decrease of 2% from the March reading of 59.3%. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting.

“This indicates strong growth in manufacturing for the 20th consecutive month, led by continued expansion in new orders, production activity, employment and inventories, with suppliers continuing to struggle delivering to demand,” says Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. 

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