Manufacturing May Be Starting To Rebound
September 04, 2001
New figures released this morning indicate manufacturing in the United States is still slow, but is much better than it was at the beginning of the year.
The National Association of Purchasing Management reports its August manufacturing index moved up to 47.9 from 43.6 in July. A reading under 50 indicates manufacturing is contracting, while a reading above 50 indicates growth.
The reading is the best since November 2000 and is greatly improved from a 10-year low reached in January when it hit 41.2. However, the August number is still the 13th straight month that manufacturing has declined.
Newport Communications Senior Economist Jim Haughey says the strong rebound in the NAPM index in August is consistent with last weeks' government report on July manufacturing.
“That report showed that shipments rose marginally, orders had a strong gain and inventory continued to decline. June was likely the bottom of this manufacturing recession,” Haughey said.
Both the Census Bureau and the NAPM reports showed that the improvement was widespread except for electronics, where surplus inventory and excess capacity is a more serious problem.
As for trucking, Haughey predicts, “The reported rise in August manufacturing production should already be increasing freight tonnage. Production is still being restrained by both the weakness in the electronics sector and the significantly weaker exports due to ongoing manufacturing recession in most of our major trade partner countries.”
Haughey predicts freight volume will get further boosts from an expected upturn in the electronics market in September or October and resumed production growth abroad by the end of the year.
NAPM also reports its new orders index increased from 46.3 in July to 53.1 in August, an indication that new orders rose for the first time in more than a year. Meanwhile, the inventories index moved up from 35.8 in July to 37.7 in August, and the production index shot up from 46.4 in July to 52.2 last month, indicating that businesses have reduced their inventories, paving the way for increased production.
The employment index fell below 50 percent in August for the 11th consecutive month, registering 40.8 compared to 37.2 percent in July, an increase of 3.6 percentage points.
Of the 20 industries in the manufacturing sector, NAPM says seven reported growth: leather, food, printing and & publishing, glass, stone and aggregate, furniture, paper and fabricated metals.