Economic activity in the manufacturing sector improved in February, and the overall economy grew for the ninth consecutive month — after it had dipped significantly in the early stages of the coronavirus — according to the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business.
The February Manufacturing PMI registered 60.8%, an increase of 2.1% from the January reading of 58.7%. This figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the ninth month in a row after contraction in March, April, and May. The New Orders Index registered 64.8%, up 3.7% from the January reading of 61.1%. The Production Index registered 63.2%, an increase of 2.5% compared to the January reading of 60.7%. The Backlog of Orders Index registered 64%, 4.3% above the January reading of 59.7%. The Employment Index registered 54.4%, 1.8% higher from the January reading of 52.6%. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 72%, up 3.8% from the January figure of 68.2%.
The Inventories Index registered 49.7%, 1.1% lower than the January reading of 50.8%. The Prices Index registered 86%, up 3.9% compared to the January reading of 82.1%. The New Export Orders Index registered 57.2%, an increase of 2.3% compared to the January reading of 54.9%. The Imports Index registered 56.1%, a 0.7-percentage point decrease from the January reading of 56.8%.
“The manufacturing economy continued its recovery in February,” said Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “Survey Committee members reported that their companies and suppliers continue to operate in reconfigured factories. Issues with absenteeism, short-term shutdowns to sanitize facilities, and difficulties in hiring workers remain challenges and continue to cause strains that limit manufacturing-growth potential. Optimistic panel sentiment increased, with five positive comments for every cautious comment, compared to a 3-to-1 ratio in January.”
Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 16 reported growth in February, in the following order: Textile Mills; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Primary Metals; Paper Products; Chemical Products; Machinery; Fabricated Metal Products; Transportation Equipment; Wood Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Furniture & Related Products; and Nonmetallic Mineral Products. The two industries reporting contraction in February are: Printing & Related Support Activities; and Petroleum & Coal Products.