Manufacturing PMI Falls to Lowest Mark Since May 2020 - Modern Distribution Management

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Manufacturing PMI Falls to Lowest Mark Since May 2020

Sliding new orders, employment, supplier deliveries and prices all factored into the latest reading, which showed further deceleration in expansion.
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The Institute for Supply Management’s latest Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) — regarded as a reliable barometer for the health of the U.S. manufacturing sector — suggests what many economists had predicted to arrive at the onset of 2022’s fourth quarter: industrial activity is slowing down considerably.

The index’s Oct. 3 reading showed a mark of 50.9 for September, a 1.9-percentage point decrease from August and to the lowest figure since May 2020 during the height of COVID-19 factory shutdowns across the country.

After riding high from the second half of 2021 through the middle of 2022, the PMI has steadily decreased in recent months. It was as high as 60.8 in October 2021 and held steady in the mid-50s through May 2022 (56.1) before sliding to 53.0, 52.8 and 52.8 during June, July and August, respectively until September’s new low point.

For the index, any reading above 50.0 indicates expansion and anything below that indicates contraction. So while the latest reading suggests expansion for the 28th consecutive month, its by the weakest margin in two and a half years.

“The U.S. manufacturing sector continues to expand, but at the lowest rate since the pandemic recovery began,” noted Timothy Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M. and chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “Following four straight months of panelists’ companies reporting softening new orders rates, the September index reading reflects companies adjusting to potential future lower demand.”


Manufacturing PMI


Manufacturing PMI

Sep 2022


Mar 2022


Aug 2022


Feb 2022


Jul 2022


Jan 2022


Jun 2022


Dec 2021


May 2022


Nov 2021


Apr 2022


Oct 2021


Average for 12 months – 56.2; High – 60.8; Low – 50.9

The September index’s decline was driven largely by sizable month-to-month declines in factors of new orders (-4.2 to 47.1), employment (-5.5 to 48.7) and supplier deliveries (-2.7 to 52.4). Backlog of orders (-2.1 to 47.8) and new export orders (-1.6 to 52.6) also saw declines, while production (+0.2 to 50.6), inventories (+2.4 to 55.5), customer inventories (+2.7 to 41.6) and imports (+0.1 to 52.6) saw increases.

Of the PMI’s six biggest manufacturing industries tracked, four — machinery; transportation equipment; food, beverage & tobacco products and computer & electronic products — registered moderate-to-strong growth in September. Three other industries — nonmetallic mineral products; plastics & rubber products; and appliances & components — saw modest growth.

September 2022

Index Series Index Sep Series Index Aug Percentage Point Change Direction Rate of Change Trend* (Months)
Manufacturing PMI® 50.9 52.8 -1.9 Growing Slower 28
New Orders 47.1 51.3 -4.2 Contracting From Growing 1
Production 50.6 50.4 +0.2 Growing Faster 28
Employment 48.7 54.2 -5.5 Contracting From Growing 1
Supplier Deliveries 52.4 55.1 -2.7 Slowing Slower 79
Inventories 55.5 53.1 +2.4 Growing Faster 14
Customers’ Inventories 41.6 38.9 +2.7 Too Low Slower 72
Prices 51.7 52.5 -0.8 Increasing Slower 28
Backlog of Orders 50.9 53.0 -2.1 Growing Slower 27
New Export Orders 47.8 49.4 -1.6 Contracting Faster 2
Imports 52.6 52.5 +0.1 Growing Faster 4
OVERALL ECONOMY Growing Slower 28
Manufacturing Sector Growing Slower 28

“Panelists’ companies slowed hiring activity; month-over-month supplier delivery performance was the best since December 2019; prices growth slowed notably (with the index at 60 percent or lower) for the third consecutive month; and lead times continue to ease for capital equipment and production materials,” Fiore detailed. “Markedly absent from panelists’ comments was any large-scale mentioning of layoffs; this indicates companies are confident of near-term demand, so primary goals are managing medium-term head counts and supply chain inventories.”

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