Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in March for the 10th consecutive month, according to the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. The March Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 53.7%, an increase of 0.5% from February's reading of 53.2%, indicating expansion in manufacturing.
The New Orders Index was also up from 54.5% in February to 55.1% in March. Production jumped up above the benchmark of 50 to 55.9% (expanding) from February's 48.2% (contracting) - a nice increase of 7.7%. It might be expected that with production increasing the demand for new hires might also move up, but that didn't happen. Employment fell to 51.1% in March from 52.3% in February.
Supplier inventories remained the same in March as in February - 52.5%, which Customer Inventories decreased by 4.5% to 42.0% in March from 46.5% the previous month - remaining too low. Order backlogs have increased as well, to 57.5%, a 5.5% jump from February's 52.0%.