Last updateWed, 24 May 2017 2pm


U.S. Manufacturing Output Posts Biggest Gain in Three Years

Industrial production advanced 1.0% in April for its third consecutive monthly increase and its largest gain since February 2014. Manufacturing output rose 1.0% as a result of widespread increases among its major industries. The indexes for mining and utilities posted gains of 1.2% and 0.7%, respectively. At 105.1% of its 2012 average, total industrial production in April was 2.2% above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.6% in April to 76.7%, a rate that is 3.2% below its long-run (1972–2016) average. 

New York Manufacturing Retreats as New Orders Fall

Manufacturing firms in New York State reported that business activity was little changed in May. On the heels of positive readings for the prior six months, the general business conditions index retreated six points to -1.0. In all, 26% of respondents—down roughly 10% from the corresponding share in April—reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 27% reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index fell below zero for the first time in several months, and at -4.4, pointed to a small decline in orders. The shipments index slipped to 10.6, indicating that shipments increased at a slower pace. The unfilled orders index tumbled sixteen points to -3.7. The delivery time index fell nine points to 6.7, a sign that delivery times continued to increase, though less so than last month, and the inventories index fell to -0.7, suggesting that inventory levels were stable.  

NAM Survey Shows Increasingly Positive Outlook in 2017

New results from the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook survey show manufacturers’ optimism rose to a new all-time high in the survey’s nearly 20-year history. In this latest survey, 93.3% of manufacturers are either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook, up from 56.6% one year ago and 77.8% in December. As a result, the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Index also soared to a new high, up from 53.1 in December to 63.7 in this report. It was the second straight quarter where the outlook exceeded its historic average – which would equate to 50 in the index – and there were strong gains in confidence for all firm sizes. 

Manufacturers’ Slow, but Steady Migration to the Cloud

“While businesses of all types make a steady march to the cloud, manufacturers are pursuing a hybrid strategy, opting to retain some foundational plant-floor systems on premise while earmarking analytics and production applications for migration to the new environment,” writes Beth Stackpole, a contributing writer for Automation World.

“Similar to mainstream productivity applications, the cloud promises a host of benefits for certain manufacturing platforms. Easier collaboration across multiple plant sites, unlimited capacity and scalability—particularly for peak cycles—and, in some instances, reduced costs are the primary benefits building a case for cloud migration, experts say. At the same time, ease of deployment and ongoing maintenance of systems is another big upside given that most cloud-based systems are quicker to deploy and easier to learn, and don’t require a dedicated staff or hardware resources to keep up and running.” 

U.S. Has Near Record High Number of Job Openings

“Employers are hiring and workers are starting to feel more confident about leaving a job for another one. It's reflects a much improved situation from the Great Recession.”

The bad news, according to CNN Money, is that “[n]ot all employers can find the skilled workers they need. Experts say that such a high number of job openings is due partially to a gap between the job skills employers demand and the skills job seekers have.” 

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